Acquirente Unico S.p.A. (AU) is a subsidiary of the Gestore dei Servizi Energetici-GSE S.p.A. Group. AU is vested by law with the mission of procuring continuous, secure, efficient and reasonably-priced electricity supply for households and small businesses.
AU buys electricity in the market on the most favourable terms and resells it to distributors or retailers of the standard offer market (“mercato di maggior tutela”) for supply to small consumers who did not switch to the open market.
Since the full opening-up of the electricity market on 1 July 2007, under Law-Decree no. 73 of 18 June 2007, AU has been purchasing electricity to cover the requirements of the standard offer market, i.e. household and small business consumers (connected at low voltage, with less than 50 employees and a yearly turnover not exceeding € 10 million) who did not choose a new provider in the open market.
AU buys electricity on the basis of demand forecasts and resells it to standard offer retailers in accordance with its mission and with the directions given by AEEG (Autorità per l’energia elettrica e il gas - the electricity & gas regulator). AU also manages the energy consumers’ help desk and holds public bidding procedures to select providers of last resort for the final customers of the natural gas market.
Procurement of electricity
The ways in which AU procures electricity are specified in the Decree of the Minister of Productive Activities of 19 December 2003. Under the Decree, AU may:
• make OTC contracts (off the power exchange) for a volume not exceeding 25% of the overall yearly forecast demand of the captive market;
• participate in procedures for allocation of transmission capacity in order to import electricity from abroad and, based on its allocated capacity, make contracts with foreign suppliers;
• procure electricity in the electricity market in order to cover the remaining requirements, after making financial contracts to hedge the risk of price volatility.
Sale of electricity to standard offer retailers
After buying electricity, AU resells it to standard offer retailers in accordance with the directions given by AEEG, at prices permitting AU to cover its recognised costs and balance its accounts.
Protection of consumers
Since 1 December 2009, AU has been giving support to AEEG by managing the energy consumers’ help desk. The help desk: i) provides consumers with information about the rights and opportunities arising from liberalisation of the energy markets and about the decisions made by AEEG; and ii) assists them in case of disputes over the quality and tariff levels of the electricity and gas services, if such disputes have not been settled directly with their distributors or providers.
Providers of last resort in the gas market
As regards the natural gas market (art. 30, para. 5 of Law 99/09), the Ministry of Economic Development issued a decree on 3 September 2009, which entrusts AU with the responsibility of holding public bidding procedures for the 2009-2010 thermal year, in order to identify providers of last resort (“FUI”) for the final customers of the natural gas market.
Integrated Information System
Law no. 129 of 13 August 2010 vests AU with the task of designing, implementing and operating a new Integrated Information System to manage the information flows of the electricity and gas markets. The system consists of a centralised structure, which interacts with operators, guaranteeing secure and timely information flows and favouring the competitiveness of the overall market.
AU’s management of the system ensures impartiality and non-discrimination among operators.
Last resort service
AU holds bidding procedures to identify providers of the last resort service (“servizio di salvaguardia”). This service is rendered to all final customers who do not qualify for the standard offer market and who may temporarily find themselves without an electricity supplier.