- The protocol allows companies belonging to industry federations to settle disputes quickly and easily.
- After a trial phase, the conciliation procedure could be extended to over 2.5 million business customers of Enel Servizio Elettrico and Enel Energia, who are members of the industry federations.

Rome, July 7th 2010 - Enel, CNA, Confagricoltura, Confapi, Confartigianato Imprese, Confcommercio-Imprese per l’Italia and Confesercenti have signed an agreement to launch their voluntary joint conciliation procedure for regulated and free market business customers who are members of the industry federations.

The agreement has received the blessing of the Authority for Electricity and Gas (AEEG), which is encouraging all companies in the sector to adopt voluntary joint conciliation procedures with end users. The parties have agreed to a protocol that sets out the guidelines for the procedure and implementing rules that cover the trial phase.

The trial phase will be conducted in a test area and should take at least six months. During this phase, only business customers of Enel Servizio Elettrico and Enel Energia who are members of the industry federations will be involved. Once this phase is completed, the partners will evaluate the effectiveness of the procedure, agree to any changes, consider the possibility of extending it to other Enel companies and sign new rules for the procedure.

Conciliation is a way of settling disputes that is based on a voluntary application submitted by both parties in an attempt to reach an amicable settlement. The procedure offers members of the industry federations a valid and free way to nip any disputes in the bud without having to go through the courts. The parties may, however, still seek recourse through the court system if no agreement is reached.

The agreement signed today will, during this initial phase, center around eight types of disputes: management of reductions in power or termination of service for non-payment; bills which did not reflect the customer’s average consumption over the previous two years; recalculation of energy or gas consumers after meter faults; estimated bills which are too high or do not reflect average consumption; management of payments through installments for bills that are particularly high (final or not); management of payments through installments and refunds for final bills; re-billing, or management of payments through installments and refunds following recalculation of erroneous bills; double billing.

To preserve the direct relationship between Enel and its customers and to improve service quality and transparency of information, the business customer must first submit a written complaint in compliance with AEEG rules before the voluntary joint conciliation procedure can be initiated.

Fulvio Conti, CEO and General Manager of Enel, commented: “With this agreement, Enel reaffirms its continued commitment  to quality service and transparency for all its customers. We are pleased to extend the conciliation procedure—which currently benefits about 30 million Enel residential power and gas customers thanks to the agreement reached with the Consumers’ Associations—to our business customers. The agreement signed today is further proof of the beneficial understanding and cooperation between our Company and the industry federations, expressed in the joint Protocol. I am confident that the new conciliation procedure will contribute to further strengthening these ties by cutting down on the time and cost of resolving disputes and through joint analysis and monitoring, leading to additional improvements to service quality for all members”.

The presidents of the industry federations also expressed their satisfaction with the agreement, stating:

”We are very pleased,” said the President of Confagricoltura Federico Vecchioni, “that the protocol has been signed extending the conciliation procedure to Confagricoltura’s farming industry members. This protocol should spark positive, new relations between Enel and its business customers by improving service quality and transparency of information with significant benefits for overall market efficiency.
During the trial period, we will have the chance to look more closely at the major disputes involving farms and the conciliation procedures and we will be able to jointly assess the feasibility of extending the protocol to other issues such as distribution, given agriculture’s growing role in the production of renewable energy.”

“Through this initiative,” said Paolo Galassi, President of Confapi, “the business system can count on a useful tool for simplifying procedures and ensuring a continuous, effective dialogue with the energy supplier. This agreement is the first step and I hope that we can broaden its scope to include other operators in addition to Enel. Confapi, along with other trade organizations, seeks to support and assist SMEs in their difficult, complex dealings with energy market operators”.

The President of Confartigianato, Giorgio Guerrini, expressed his satisfaction over the signing of the protocol covering SMEs. “This will simplify the relationship between businesses and an important supplier, contributing significantly to the smooth functioning of the market. This initiative should make it easier to resolve problems such as, for example, double billing or metering. But this is only the first step. We must continue in this direction towards a more competitive and well-functioning market.”

For the President of Cna, Ivan Malavasi, “The first steps towards the liberalization of the energy market have already made an important impact on the search by craft manufacturers and SMEs to cut their costs. The introduction of the conciliation system undoubtedly helps to support businesses during these months of crisis. Being able to count on settling disputes within a certain time frame is very important, as is the climate of dialogue and constructive collaboration between the associations representing craft manufacturers and SMEs and the Enel Group.”

Carlo Sangalli, President of Confcommercio-Imprese per l’Italia, stated “the agreement reached today, the first in this sector, represents tangible support for service and retail businesses facing the present crisis and the difficulties of managing companies that find themselves operating in an increasingly competitive market. The signing of this protocol will, in fact, make it possible to more quickly solve those problems that right now reduce the benefits to companies brought by the liberalization of the energy markets and marks an important opportunity for providing even more information to local Confcommercio branches about issues related to the liberalization of the energy markets.”

The national chairman of Confesercenti, Marco Venturi, expressed his full support for the protocol of understanding on the conciliation procedure signed by Enel and the associations representing SMEs concerning the supply of electricity and gas: “It’s an initiative that aims to prevent, through the online conciliation process, any problems in dealings between small member companies and suppliers in the energy market. We believe that the quick resolution expected under the agreement, for example in cases of double billing or bills that do not reflect the non-domestic user’s average consumption, is, for SMEs, a crucial first step towards the smooth operation of the free market.”

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