Energy firms secure massive loans for grids

The three biggest Dutch energy concerns Essent, Nuon and Eneco are in the process of securing billion euro loans for their grid operations, reports Monday’s Financieele Dagblad.

When these units are sold off in 2011 in line with new legislation they will be left with loans totalling between €10bn and €12b, the paper says, quoting unnamed sources in the energy sector.
The money is intended to pay super dividends to shareholders (local authorities) and for the capitalisation of their commercial operations (production and supply).
But according to experts, the high loans could cause problems, the paper says.
‘The grid companies have not invested enough in expansion and maintenance over the past few years. They need to catch up. If the grids are financed by maximum loans now, then they will need to put up tariffs to be able to pay for that in the future,’ the paper quotes a source as saying.
One banker tells the paper that the interest on the new loans will amount to €550m a year which could force a €90 rise in household energy bills.
A spokesman for economic affairs minister Maria van der Hoeven said the minister was taking the matter ‘extremely seriously’.

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