Published: 20 October 2023 at 13:30
Those who have solar panels and sign a new energy contract are up to 270 euros more expensive per year. Almost all energy companies charge extra because of net-metering.
This is according to research by comparison site Keuze.nl on tariffs for households with and without solar panels. The difference arises mainly from the non-allocation of so-called cash-backs, an amount paid by the energy company at the end of the contract.
Energy company Vandebron received a lot of criticism in August when the company was the first to announce that it would charge a fee to customers who supply a lot of energy back. This is necessary, the company argues, to help pay for the balancing scheme. This scheme allows consumers to take back the energy they generate and supply in the summer for free in the dark months; yield and consumption are offset against each other. This costs energy companies a lot of money because energy is much more expensive in winter, and this is also paid for by people without solar panels.
Vandebron was honest about the extra costs. Other companies also recently increased charges for solar panel owners without publicising it. Or they hide the extra costs in the offer. Some companies no longer want customers with solar panels at all and do not make an offer via the comparators.
save as much as €270 a year. Geert Wirken of Keuze.nl: ”Those differences are based on current tariffs. Last week the cashbacks were higher and the difference with or without solar panels even bigger.” Of the 15 energy companies surveyed, 11 charge extra for those who feed solar power back, even though the supply of that solar power is minimal.
Those with solar panels can still only sign a contract with a few energy companies for longer than one year. Energy suppliers are uncertain about the net-metering scheme. Will it be phased out from 2025 now that the government has fallen? And how high will the mandatory minimum feed-in tariff be? Wirken:
”They don’t want to run the risk of not being able to pass on extra costs.”
The price cap ends this year and my advice is still to choose a fixed contract now
The energy crisis with record prices like last summer is over, but energy companies are still nervous about buying large amounts of energy without enough buyers. Purchasing prices for energy fluctuate sharply. Natural gas, for instance, is now 30 per cent more expensive than a fortnight ago. There are great fears that the war that has erupted in Israel is putting pressure on gas supplies, and in times with little sun and little wind, a lot of gas is needed to produce electricity. That expensively generated electricity becomes extra expensive for power companies if it has to be delivered ‘for free’ to solar panel owners.
The nervousness is also present among consumers. ”We notice it in the crowds when there is news about war in the Middle East and the impact on the price of gas,” says Joris Kerkhof of comparison site Independer. Some 4.5 million households still have variable contracts. ”Not so surprising because so far variable prices were falling, but now we are seeing the first increases again. The price cap ends this year and my advice is still to choose a fixed contract now.”
The extra costs charged by energy companies mean a longer payback period for solar panels. The installation industry is noticing a declining interest in solar panels among individuals because they are uncertain about the payback period. Moreover, according to Milieu Centraal, the prices of solar panel installations have risen by 50 per cent, increasing the payback period to eight years. The extra charges charged by power companies could add another year and a half.
Last summer when electricity prices were sky-high due to the energy crisis, solar panel installers were swamped with work and long waiting times, but now they report a sharp drop in orders. Energy suppliers are imposing extra costs on customers with solar panels, and on top of this, some homes are experiencing system failures when too much solar power is produced in the neighbourhood because the grid cannot cope. The yield on the sunniest days of the year then falls short.
Wirken has a tip for people who will soon have solar panels installed: ”Take out a multi-year contract before the solar panels are installed, then you will still benefit from the cashback and be sure that the fixed supply costs do not change.”
Source: De Gelderlander