Effective Paths for Consumer Empowerment and Protection in Retail Energy Markets
Maria Ioannidou ()
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Maria Ioannidou: Queen Mary University of London
Journal of Consumer Policy, 2018, vol. 41, issue 2, No 3, 135-157
Abstract Consumer empowerment and protection are frequently discussed in contemporary energy policy debates. The process of consumer empowerment through information and consumer education has great potential, yet consumer switching as the concomitant outcome of this process remains low. Additional protection for vulnerable consumers is called for. This article is centred on the path to achieving consumer empowerment and protection. In particular, it stresses that empowerment should be viewed as a long-term process. Regulators should not focus on the mere outcome of switching and adopt remedies aimed at changing consumer behaviour in the short term. The discussion highlights how attempts to protect vulnerable consumers through an ancillary application of competition law distort the competitive process and should be avoided. Personal vulnerabilities, such as low income, can be better tackled with targeted social policy measures, whereas instances of vulnerabilities pertaining to the market context, such as difficulties in assessing different energy offers, are better phased out through the market mechanism.
Keywords: Consumer empowerment; Consumer vulnerabilities; Retail energy markets; Competition; Regulation; UK energy market investigation (search for similar items in EconPapers)
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