Confusion on energy grid split-up

The controversial splitting up of Dutch energy concerns into separate companies for the production of gas and electricity and its transport is to go ahead but it remains unclear when the split must be completed.

The law to split the companies up was approved in October last year but its implementation was put on hold by the senate which introduced a clause saying the new law would only come into effect if the transport grids are subject to commercial risks in the free market.
Economic affairs minister Maria van Hoeven believes this is now the case and has the support of the lower house but the senate is far more critical. After a debate which lasted almost to midnight on Tuesday, a majority of senators agreed to the minister implementing the law but are divided about the deadline for segregation.
The Volkskrant says that Van der Hoeven wants to give energy companies a deadline of February 1 2010 but she could be prepared to extend this to the end of that year.
The Financieele Dagblad meanwhile reports that the Christian Democrats are pushing for January 1 2012 but adds that most political observers expect a compromise date of January 1 2011.
According to ANP news agency Van der Hoeven is to discuss this issue with the cabinet before making a decision.
The law applies to the four traditional energy companies Essent, Nuon, Eneco and Delta. All are owned by provincial and local governments.

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