Saturday 03 December 2022

Jetten urged to compensate councils who switched from Gazprom

Photo: Depositphotos

Two coalition parties have called on energy minister Rob Jetten to offer full compensation to councils that cancelled their contracts with former Russian gas supplier Gazprom.

Jetten ordered some 300 municipalities, schools and water boards whose gas was provided by Gazprom Energy to switch to another supplier before the end of the year.

The minister reversed his decision last week after Germany nationalised its Gazprom subsidiary and renamed it Sefe Energy Ltd (‘Saving Energy For Europe’) in August. The move was designed to stop the company going bankrupt and sever its financial ties with Russia, meaning it no longer fell foul of international sanctions.

Around 150 customers of Gazprom Energy, which is a subsidiary of Sefe, had already switched suppliers in response to Jetten’s original deadline, usually at much higher energy prices. The Christian Democrat (CDA) and ChristenUnie (CU) parties say those users should be refunded by the government.

CU MP Pieter Grinwis said Jetten’s decision was an ‘error of judgment’, since other European countries concluded much earlier that buying gas from Sefe would not breach sanctions against Russia.

‘There was no Russian link whatsoever to that company any more and gas from other suppliers also came partly from Russia,’ Grinwis said. ‘So that’s two errors and municipalities have been forced to pay a high price.’

Utrecht city council’s energy bill has gone up by €11 million a year after switching from Gazprom, while on a smaller scale Sliedrecht, in Zuid-Holland province, with a population of around 25,000, is paying an extra €1 million next year.

‘That’s 40 euros per resident,’ said Grinwis. ‘It’s a serious amount of money. If you’re not careful, it will come at the expense of services such as the library, the swimming pool and community centres.’

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