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Regulator asks consumers for opinions on selected aspects of the Polish energy market

More than 80 per cent of households have been affected by increases in electricity and gas prices due to the energy crisis, and nearly 70 per cent of Poles support the development of nuclear power plants in our country. Among other things, these are the findings from the latest consumer survey conducted by the Energy Regulatory Office and PBS market research firm.

An objective picture of energy market consumers

The survey undertaken by URE and PBS survey is the first research into consumer preferences on the Polish energy market carried out by the regulator in many years, and is intended to illustrate as objectively as possible the level of knowledge and opinions of Poles on the most important energy issues and long-term challenges facing the sector, such as the energy transition.

The survey was conceived in response to the turbulence related to the energy crisis and the accelerating changes in the Polish energy sector, which clearly called for the definition of comprehensive communication and education activities addressed to all market participants, with particular emphasis on individual energy consumers. And since a proper diagnosis should be the starting point for any educational project – in this case the assessment of the level of knowledge and the crucial information needs in the relevant area, the concept to undertake a public opinion survey was born. This means that the findings from the survey may support the President of URE in the performance of statutory tasks, which consist in balancing the interests of energy companies and fuel and energy consumers.

It is crucial for the success of the accelerating energy transition that it is socially just and does not impair, but actually improves the competitiveness of the Polish economy and the standards of living in Poland. In implementing this long-term process, we should listen not only to the industry, but also to the public. This is one of the reasons why we decided to carry out a public opinion poll - says Rafał Gawin, President of URE. We wanted to understand both the level of awareness among energy market participants and the attitudes of Poles towards the energy transition process. We also hope to continue this research in the coming years as an instrument supporting the regulator’s activities adds the head of URE.

The survey was conducted in June 2023 using the computer-assisted web interviewing (CAWI) methodology, on a representative sample of 1001 respondents who were the individuals responsible for paying electricity bills in their households. Importantly, the survey should be repeated regularly to illustrate the dynamics of change in the awareness of energy consumers in Poland.

Respondents answered questions divided into thematic blocks that concerned:

  • knowledge of energy sources in Poland,
  • energy costs in household budgets,
  • awareness of consumer rights,
  • issues related to energy transition,
  • knowledge of the powers of the President of the Energy Regulatory Office.

Energy sources

Poles are quite knowledgeable when it comes to knowing the sources used for electricity generation in our country. When asked about the currently primary sources of electricity for Poland, more than 91 per cent of respondents indicated coal, and for 80 per cent it was their first choice. Next, the respondents mentioned renewables (76 per cent) and gas (72 per cent) next.

The participants in the survey also believe that most renewable energy in Poland is produced by photovoltaic installations. This was the view of 87 per cent of the respondents. Wind power is the second-largest renewable energy source in the opinion of Poles. Photovoltaics were more often indicated as the most important source of renewable energy by rural residents.

Energy in the household budget

More than 80 per cent of those surveyed consider themselves to be energy savers, with switching off the lights in unused rooms (indicated by 92 per cent of electricity-saving respondents) and purchasing energy-efficient lighting (75 per cent) mentioned among the most common 'saving' measures. Of the respondents who position themselves as energy savers, 12 per cent have installed photovoltaic panels for this purpose.

Over 80 per cent of households have recently experienced an increase in spending on electricity and gas. This opinion is more strongly expressed by city dwellers.

Among the factors having the greatest impact on energy prices, respondents indicated: national politics (73 per cent), energy commodity prices (72 per cent), as well as international politics (war in Ukraine) and European Union policy (65 per cent of indications each).

At the same time, only 40 per cent of respondents say they are aware of the 10 per cent electricity price discount they are entitled to in 2024, provided they reduce their electricity consumption by at least 10 per cent in 2023 compared to the previous year.

For 71 per cent of those participating in the survey, electricity bills are clear, with nearly 60 per cent saying they know that the bill consists of a consumption charge and a distribution charge, which are paid to two different companies.

Ways of dispute resolution

The majority of participants in the survey carried out by PBS had no reservations as to the quality of service provided by electricity suppliers. On the other hand, the bulk of customers’ reservations concerned the quality of the supplied electricity, which 38 per cent of respondents reporting this issue.

Out of all the participants in the survey, 26 per cent decided to make at least one complaint to their electricity supplier. In more than two-thirds of cases, complaints were acknowledged and 60 per cent of respondents rated the resolutions as satisfactory.

Change of supplier

As the results of the survey indicate, Poles are aware of the possibility of switching electricity retailers. Such knowledge was declared by more than 90 per cent of respondents. At the same time, only 15 per cent of those taking part in the survey had ever decided to switch the supplier at least once, with a further 20 per cent considering doing so.

Of those who decided to switch the electricity supplier, 57 per cent are satisfied with their decision and 25 per cent are disappointed. Nearly 80 per cent of the respondents who switched electricity supplier and view the change positively view the reduction in bills as the main benefit of their decision.

Participants in the survey who have not considered switching electricity supplier are mostly satisfied with their current supplier (52 per cent of indications) or see no reason to do so (37 per cent of responses).

Understanding of the role and activity of URE

Responses to questions about the Energy Regulatory Office indicate the need to intensify communication efforts directed at increasing the visibility of URE.

In an open-ended question, two thirds of respondents were unable to spontaneously name the institution responsible for energy market regulation, with the Energy Regulatory Authority having been named by 25 per cent of the respondents.

At the same time, 54 per cent of the participants in the survey indicated that they had heard of the Energy Regulatory Office, and 65 per cent correctly singled out this office as the institution that verifies and approves electricity prices and rates for households.

Energy transition

In the section of questions devoted to the energy transition, the implementation of the Polish nuclear programme came to the fore. Support for the construction of nuclear power plants in Poland was expressed by as many as 69 per cent of those surveyed. What is more, 45 per cent of those surveyed are would be ready to accept such a development close to their place of residence.

Those who support the construction of nuclear power plants point to access to cheap and clean energy as the main advantage of this type of investment. Opponents of nuclear power see safety issues as the biggest threat.

One of the more surprising findings of the survey is that Poles generally do not agree with the statement that ‘onshore windmills spoil the landscape’, as only 21 per cent subscribe to this view while 71 per cent of respondents are of the opposite opinion. Interestingly, there are no significant differences between rural and urban residents on this point. Among those living in rural areas, 21.5 per cent of the survey participants agreed with the aforementioned opinion, while 60.5 per cent of respondents were against it. In the cities, on the other hand, 20.7 per cent of respondents supported the above statement, while nearly 73 per cent of survey participants disagreed.

According to those interviewed, public funding should primarily support renewable energy sources. Subsidies for solar power are supported by 67 per cent of respondents, and by 66 per cent as regards wind power. This source funding is also supported by 37 per cent of survey participants with regard to for nuclear power.

At the same time, the readiness of respondents to bear higher costs for the use of green energy presents itself somewhat in contrast to the declared RES-enthusiasm. Only 29 per cent of survey participants are willing to pay more for electricity, as long as it comes from clean sources, and nearly half of those questioned (48 per cent) do not want to bear higher costs.

The information presented here is not exhaustive of all the conclusions contained in the report by the Energy Regulatory Office and PBS



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