A Dutch energy supplier is going to charge its customers for generating solar power. Solar panel owners will start paying around 10 to 20 euros a month for power they feed back to the grid. Soon several energy companies will follow, experts say.
The charge goes into effect for new customers immediately, existing customers will have to deal with it as soon as their contract expires.
The energy company with some 180,000 customers has been struggling for some time with rising costs as more and more Dutch people opt for solar panels. All these customers generate solar energy simultaneously, often in the middle of the day when the sun is most powerful. As a result, the electricity grid becomes overloaded at that time; when this happens, energy companies have to pay money to high-voltage operator TenneT to deal with it. The more dutch people generate their own solar energy, the more often costs have to be incurred for the overloaded power grid. “Our costs have more than doubled compared to last year.” Says the energy supplier’s CFO. The company now says it already has to pay more than 10 million a year. This is passed on to consumers by levying ‘feed-in’ charges
According to the CFO, this way, the supplier ‘fairly’ puts the bill on the right people. The grid costs are currently shared among all customers, including those who do not have solar panels. They will soon pay up to 20 euros less per month. Yet it is still more advantageous to have solar panels. A calculation example shows that the average customer earns roughly 250 euros a year from his solar panels, where previously this was 500 euros. So a minus of 50%.
“We hope that the charge will encourage customers to use power at the times it is generated,” he says. Think of charging the electric car during the day or turning on the washing machine.
Still, The Consumers’ Association has substantial reservations about the levy. It stops people wanting to buy solar panels, which in turn has implications for the pursuit of climate goals. The fact is that people who own panels are disadvantaged. Still, energy companies are free to impose charges on its customers.
According to experts, other energy suppliers will soon follow suit. It was imminent that an energy company would say, “This is no longer affordable”. It is all but certain that energy companies will start differentiating between customers with and without solar panels in the future. “It’s actually weird that households have to pay for doing the right thing, which is generating sustainable electricity,” he said.
Our country’s three largest energy companies are not ruling out introducing a similar charge. The groups have the same problem and are looking for a solution.
The energy sector has repeatedly raised the ever-rising grid costs with politicians. After a heated debate, the Lower House agreed to phase out the net-metering scheme. This scheme was once created as a lure for buying solar panels. Now that the price of solar panels has dropped, the government thinks this scheme is no longer necessary. PvdA and GroenLinks eventually voted against it for fear that the Netherlands will fail to meet climate targets, making it uncertain whether the phase-out will pass the Senate.
Politicians dawdle too long vin the industry association for renewable energy companies NVDE. The phase-out of the net-metering scheme has been pushed so far ahead that the energy market is now coming up with its own solution.