Energy firms delay price rises after regulator threatens fines
Dutch energy companies have postponed scheduled price rises that were due to take effect on October 1 after coming under pressure from consumers and the market regulator ACM.
Essent and its subsidiary Energiedirect said the increases would not take effect until November 7, after they said they would revise their rates on October 8.
The ACM threatened to fine energy providers for breaching the law which says customers must be given 30 days’ notice of any increase. It also published model letters on its website ConsuWijzer to enable consumers to complain directly to their energy supplier.
Vattenfall and Eneco, the two other main players, said they would still charge the published rates, but bring them in on October 15 to comply with the 30-day rule.
Energy firms sought to blame the regulator for the postponement, argued that the 30-day limit was a guideline rather than a legally binding notice period, and warned that prices would have to be set higher for longer to compensate for the delay.
‘Although this change to our tariffs was announced according to the rules, reports by the ACM have led to unrest among our customers. As a result Essent will be changing the date when it introduces the charges,’ a spokesman for Essent said.
Crucially for consumers, however, the new charges will now take effect closer to November 1, the date the government’s partial price cap comes into force.
Domestic users will pay no more than 70c for a unit of electricity and €1.50 for a cubic metre of gas, up to a limit based on average use, with the government compensating energy firms for the difference.
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