In the three-month period since Austria fully opened up its electricity retail market RWW, the joint-venture between Verbund and Raiffeisen Ware Austria (RWA), has won 6000 new customers and claimed today that a ten-fold increase was possible within four years.

RWW managing director Michael Heiden attributed the success to the competitive rates, clean energy and range of services available. “Households, agriculture, and trade and industry are clearly those who reap the benefits of the power supplied by RWW, and this will not change”, said Heiden.

According to RWW, 30 000 customers are the short-term business objective for the year to come, and 60 000 by the year 2005. Currently, RWW supplies 4000 household customers (consumption 15m kWh), 1000 customers from the agricultural sector (10m kWh), and as many from trade and industry (15m kWh). RWW said its electricity customers are currently saving more than 12m Austrian schillings ($774 200).

RWW accepted that in the region supplied by Wienstrom, one third of the possible cost saving is “eaten up” by the cogeneration surcharge customers have to pay there.

Heiden said that problem number one was the network providers, where he still sees “no real unbundling”. He said that in addition they refuse to accept night current solutions in some supply areas. Night current is part of the RWW “special offer” and one of this supplier’s price strengths.

The RWW supply package consists of 100 per cent of clean hydroelectricity, handling of the network user contracts for the customers, one single bill for energy and network and cost-favorable night current.

RWW said that it was optimistic that the trend in consumer switching would continue, attracted by its supply package and the absence of any switching costs.