Gas, why do prices go down and bills go up?

The answer is in the calculation mechanism, count the average of the month compared to the previous month

Logic would say otherwise. And instead, in the face of gas prices that continue to fallhave now returned to pre-war levels in Ukraine, bills keep going up. In December, according to the latest update just provided by Arera, even by 23.3%. Why does this happen?

To answer it is necessary to start from changes made by the Authority to the calculation methodsprecisely because of the crisis that arose after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. In particular, it intervened on the ways in which the cost of the raw material is updated. In practice, the forward quotations of the wholesale market are no longer the starting point for calculating the price of gas under the protected regime. The gas price is fixed considering the average of the Italian wholesale market prices. The price update frequency is now monthly instead of quarterly. At the beginning of each month, as happened today for the month of December, the Energy Regulatory Authority publishes the reference values ​​for the previous month. In theory, this mechanism makes it possible not to transfer risk coverage costs to bills. And also to intercept the advantages deriving from a decrease in quotations more quickly and effectively, as is happening in this phase.

What happened then in December? The price formation mechanism takes into account the average of the month, compared with that of the previous month, and given that increases were recorded in the first half of December compared to November, the final result is in any case an increase.

Looking ahead, to next survey for the month of Januaryif the downward trend in natural gas prices were to continue, or at least if there were no increases in the average for the month, there would be the first positive effects on bills, with a decrease that would begin to compensate for the sequence of increases that has been recorded in the last months.

All this, considering that when we talk about tariffs regulated by Arera we are talking about the protected market. Those on the free market, on the other hand, the majority of Italians, must wait for variable-rate contracts to reflect changes in market prices or, in the case of fixed-rate contracts, go and look for operators who in the meantime have chosen to lower their prices. (Of Fabio Insenga)