Netherlands

Netherlands

Too much demand prompts delay

Dutch consumers who thought they could shop around for green power from the start of this month will now have to wait until July 1. Full opening of the Dutch green power market, originally planned for January 1 this year, will now take place on January 1, 2002. The decision to delay the opening of the green power market was taken after a report concluded that the Dutch energy sector is currently unable to accommodate the anticipated level of demand.

Dutch consumers who were looking forward to shopping around for green power from the start of this month will now have to wait until July 1. Full opening of the Dutch green power market, originally planned for January 1 this year, will now take place on January 1, 2002, says the economics ministry.

The decision to delay and stagger the opening of the green power market was taken after a report from the government appointed Platform Accelerated Liberalisation concluded that the Dutch energy sector is currently unable to accommodate the anticipated level of demand for green power. "Careless planning could result in chaos with severe repercussions for the whole liberalisation process," says the platform's chair, Gerrit-Jan Zijlstra. "Many grid managers are far from ready for the market to be opened to medium sized users -- some 64,000 electricity customers and 1500 gas customers. The green customer potential is nearly ten times that," he says. "Furthermore the government still needs to put a number of regulations in place."

According to the revised schedule, July 1 will see the launch of the electronic certification system which is to be operated by national grid owner TenneT. This will enable Dutch power users, encouraged to shop around by increased carbon tax rates, to hunt for good deals on green power. The government hopes this will stimulate competitive green power pricing and create a demand led growth in renewables production. So far three companies are offering green power packages at the same price as conventional energy. Technology-specific certification will also allow consumers to shop for particular brands of green power, a market which newcomer Echte-Energie hopes to tap with a range of differentially priced green power products.

Although consumers will be free to choose their green power retailer from July 1, the responsibility for the physical supply of power will remain in the hands of their existing local power company. It will bill the green power company, which will then bill the consumer. As of January 1, however, the green power seller will be responsible for the physical supply to the consumer. The ministry adds that while the green certificate system is directed at the domestic market, it will be possible to import green power and that certificates will then be credited to the account of the importer, but that this will be strictly controlled.

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