By Liam Moloney

The Italian energy regulator Thursday said it will reduce natural gas and electricity prices that are used by the majority of households and small businesses from next week as the country benefits from the opening up of the sector to competition.

In a statement, the regulator said Monday it will reduce--for the first time in three years--gas prices by 4.2%, which corresponds to an average saving of about 55 euros ($70.4) per bill. Electricity prices will be reduced by 1.0%, which means an average saving of EUR5.

Last year, the technocrat government of Prime Minister Mario Monti approved rules to promote liberalization of the gas market, including forcing energy company Eni SpA (E) to let go of its controlling stake in gas transmission grid Snam SpA (SRG.MI).

"Today's drop in energy bills is the first concrete effect of this comprehensive reform, allowing consumers to benefit [from the changes]," said energy regulator Guido Bortoni in the statement.

The regulator expects 2013 domestic gas bills for those that have opted to have gas prices set by the regulator to fall by at least 7.0% by the end of the year.

Write to Liam Moloney at

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