Friday, 28 February 2020
Agent Resource Center
Agent Resource Center

Electric Provider and Distributor: What is the difference?

Written by Posted On Sunday, 26 January 2020 21:02

In 2007, the energy market opened up to the competition. However, this major upheaval only concerns gas or electric providers. Do you know how to differentiate between them? Let’s zoom on the activities of distributors and suppliers.

What does the gas or electricity distributor do?

Energy distribution covers the activity of various companies for electricity and several others for gas. These two energies, before reaching the installations, must be transported. For gas, a first network operating on major main axes is managed by the transmission system operator GRTgaz - the European leader in gas transportation, except in the southwest of the territory where TGIF manages part of the main axes. 

For electricity, this first network is managed by RTE, a subsidiary of the DF mission that supposedly ensures the development of very high voltage lines. From these major distribution lines, gas and electricity are sent to users by a system of secondary networks. This is where companies come in and are responsible for several tasks:

  • Ensure the proper routing of energies from the transport network to the installations of professionals and individuals.
  • Support the connection of private accommodation and professional premises to the gas and electricity distribution networks.
  • Take care of all the operations to be carried out on gas and electricity meters. For example, meter readings, commissioning and meter closings are handled by distributors and companies.
  • Guarantee a continuous supply of gas and electricity.
  • Responsible for emergency interventions on outdoor gas and electricity installations: gas leaks, lines fallen on the road, etc.

The difference between the company distributors is therefore made on the type of activities they exercise as well as on their scope of intervention. The two players, distributors and suppliers, work on the same raw material but are not in the same position on the chain - so there is never a choice between their activities since there is no way overlap.

Note: the distribution and transportation of gas and electricity are public services, unlike the supply of energy, which is private. Distribution activities are therefore fully supervised by the individual states.

What does the gas or electricity supplier do?

The gas or electricity supplier is the entity with which customers have the most contact: from subscription to termination, including the change of name of the meters, energy contracts are established with the supplier and not with the energy distributor.

The activity of the gas and / or electricity supplier is therefore to buy - or produce in some cases - energy and resell it to consumers, professionals or individuals. These are therefore provided by private companies and do not belong to the state.

All interventions on gas or electricity meters are carried out by distributors, even though many consumers often have the reflex to contact their supplier. Likewise, since the gas and electricity networks are managed by distributors, a change of supplier - going from EDF to Direct Energie for example - does not, in any case, entail a change in the quality of gas or in the method of routing.

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