The cabinet is planning to partially nationalise city heating systems in an effort to exert more influence over their operations, sources in The Hague have told broadcaster NOS.
The sources say energy minister Rob Jetten wants the government to have a 51% stake in networks and that ministers will take a final decision at Friday’s cabinet meeting.
Around 500,000 homes in the Netherlands are kept warm by district heating systems, which often use waste heat generated by industry. That number is due to triple in the coming years as the Netherlands moves away from gas fired central heating systems.
The government is keen to nationalie the networks as a sweetener to encourage people to stop using gas-fired central heating, the Volkskrant reported on Thursday afternoon.
Officials believe they would be more willing to make the switch if they were not being forced into the hands of a private company, with no choice of supplier, the paper said.
Energy company Vattenfall said in a reaction to the report that it would not develop any more district heating schemes or expand those already in operation if the cabinet pressed ahead with nationalisation.
The company, which is 100% owned by the Swedish state, said it supported efforts to give a more important role to local authorities. However, private companies would lose control over heating systems while remaining financially responsible and this would be an impossible situation, Vattenfall said.
Eneco, 80% owned by Mitsubishi Corporation, said the decision is ‘incomprehensible’. It will lead to ‘uncertainty about investments in current projects, years of delays and a bigger dependency on gas,’ the company told the Financieele Dagblad.
Some 90% of the country’s district heating networks are in private hands. Vattenfall, Eneco and Ennatuurlijk dominate the market.
Jetten also wants to delink the cost of city heating from gas prices, broadcaster NOS said. Households which use industrial heat are facing mounting energy bills even though they may be gas-free because of the current system.
Thank you for donating to DutchNews.nl.
We could not provide the Dutch News service, and keep it free of charge, without the generous support of our readers. Your donations allow us to report on issues you tell us matter, and provide you with a summary of the most important Dutch news each day.Make a donation