Power firms forced to hive off grids (update)

The four biggest Dutch energy concerns are to be forced to create separate companies for their transport grids. Economic affairs minister Maria van der Hoeven told MPs last night that she wants Essent, Nuon, Eneco and Delta to separate their commercial activities (power production, supply and trading) from their electricity transport activities.

The move is widely supported by MPs.
A law intended to implement this separation was passed by MPs last year but was amended by the senate so that it would only become obligatory if the independence of grids was threatened, for example by mergers or acquisitions involving foreign companies.
The law specifies that the grids must remain in public hands.
Van der Hoeven now says she does not want to take the risk that the grids will fall into foreign ownership. ‘You cannot wait until there are problems because then it will be too late,’ she is reported as saying.
The fear is that foreign companies will not invest in the grid infrastructure.
Earlier this year Essent and Nuon announced merger plans and made no secret of the fact that they see this as a step towards forming a partnership with a foreign power company. Essent said today it wants to meet the minister to find out what her plans are.

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