Electricity bills could go up by 30% next year

Summary

Due to a deficit caused by green energy subsidies, residents of Flanders could see their energy costs rise by as much as 30% over the next few years, says the Social-Economic Council of Flanders

Report expected next month

Electricity bills in Flanders could go up by as much as 30% in the coming years, as the government attempts to make up for a deficit of €1.7 billion caused by green energy subsidies paid by the previous administration. The subsidies were approved by the Flemish government but paid out by the grid management companies Eandis and Infrax. They were unable to recoup the cost from customers because the tariffs were frozen for two years by federal consumer minister Johan Vande Lanotte.

Paying off the accumulated debt between 2016 and 2019 would involve raising the costs by 30% from the baseline of 2013, according to calculations by the Social-Economic Council of Flanders. The freeze on tariffs ends at the end of this year, and the question is now how much they will go up on 1 January.

The Flemish energy regulator Vreg, responsible for setting tariffs, said it would not reply to speculation on the extent of the increase. “I only want to talk about things I’m 100% sure of,” said director-general André Pictoel. “The distribution tariffs will be published in the second half of November.”

According to Vande Lanotte, who is no longer in the office, a rise in electricity prices could be avoided. He called for the return of the fee charged to the owners of solar panels and other alternative sources of energy for connection to the grid. That would see the debt paid off in the same time frame, he said, while ensuring the bill was paid by those who benefited from the subsidies in the first place.

“We knew a price rise was on the way, but this is a shock for everyone,” said Ivo Michiels, head of the consumer organisation Test-Aankoop. “It means more families will suffer energy shortages.” The organisation has asked the government to spread out the increased cost over as much time as possible.

Photo: Ingimage

Due to a deficity caused by green energy subsidies, residents of Flanders could see their energy costs rise by as much as 30% over the next few years, says the Social-Economic Council of Flanders.

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Electrabel

A subsidiary of the French GDF Suez, Electrabel is the largest energy supplier in Belgium. Its two biggest competitors in Flanders are EDF Luminus and Nuon.
History - Originally established as the “Electriciteitsmaatschappij der Schelde” (Electricity Company of the Scheldt) in 1905, Electrabel has gone through several mergers since then, adopting its current name in 1990.
Activities - Electrabel’s two core activities are electricity production and sale and delivery of electricity, natural gas and energy services to consumers, small businesses, industry clients and public institutions.
Clashes - In recent years, Electrabel has repeatedly butted heads with Flemish energy ministers and the Flemish energy market regulator. Sticking points have included steep energy prices, closure of three nuclear reactors and payment of a nuclear contribution of millions of euros.
5 151

employees in 2013

9 163

production capacity in megawatts in 2013

3

millions customers in 2013