It is not often that one feels sympathy for the Dutch energy companies – what with their never-ending cries of ‘unfair’ and ‘help, the Europeans are coming (to take us over)’ while they knock up profits that would have many companies in the real world laughing all the way to the Bahamas (Nuon reported last month that its net income for the first six months was up 70%…).
Nevertheless, energy sector organisation EnergieNed does have a point in today’s FD when it criticsis the cabinet proposal to make power firms responsible for reducing electricity consumption. There is something fundamentally absurd about the idea that a company has, by law, to encourage its customers to use less of its product… Especially as the government has spent the last few years pushing liberalisation and telling the energy companies to grow up and act like proper commercial companies.
And the energy sector has another good reason to bellyache about the government this week. Economic affairs minister Joop Wijn appears to be steadfast in his decision to scrap the subsidy for new green power production initiatives (the so-called MEP). And this even though the majority of MPs – not to mention the environmental lobby, the agricultural industry (which is heavily involved in wind power green power) and the Rabobank – are furious at the move. Rabobank top man Bert Heemskerk accused the government of being an ‘untrustworthy partner’ in today’s VK.
But perhaps Wijn thought no one would notice that he’s pulling the plug on the subsidy, why else did he make the initial announcement in the middle of August? Or perhaps he thought his reasoning was failsafe – the subsidy is too successful (heaven forbid!). In any case, it looks like the honeymoon period is over for Wijn who replaced the much maligned Laurens Jan Brinkhorst in the government reshuffle earlier this year.