Suppliers of electricity and natural gas compete with each other on the market. For you as a customer, this means that you are free to choose from which of them to buy your energy. Electricity suppliers have to procure the electricity they need to supply their customers. At present there are over 130 power suppliers in Austria. Some market their products throughout the country and others only have a local presence.
Natural gas suppliers must ensure that they deliver gas to their customers. In Austria, gas is mostly imported from abroad; one fifth of the natural gas demand in Austria is covered with gas from domestic production. To date, more than 30 natural gas suppliers offer natural gas in Austria, some only locally, others in several of the federal provinces.
The system operators are responsible for building, expanding, maintaining and operating the network, i.e. the gas and power lines through which energy is transported to the consumers. The network includes both transmission lines and complex distribution grids in towns and rural areas. Each system operator has a specified grid zone. Where you live therefore determines who your system operator is. Even after switching your supplier, your system operator will remain the same.
Consumers draw electricity or gas and pay the energy price to the supplier and the network charges to the system operator. By numbers, household consumers constitute the largest group of energy users. But there are of course other important consumer groups such as commercial consumers or large industrial consumers. Almost all Austrian households are connected to the electricity grid: there are about 3.5 m electricity consumers in Austria. Natural gas is supplied to approximately 1.3 m consumers.