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ACM: from 2024, large-scale users of electricity will no longer receive a volume discount

The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) will discontinue the discount on transmission tariffs for large-scale users that continuously consume large volumes of electricity. An external study commissioned by ACM has revealed that, as part of the volume correction scheme (VCR), companies that receive a discount do not, in practice, produce lower costs for system operators than do other users. As such, the discount scheme is not justified.

ACM earlier announced that it will discontinue the discount scheme from 2024 onwards, unless studies showed that the discount was based on actual lower costs for system operators and would thus be justified. This decision was prompted by a 2021 ruling of the Court of Justice of the European Union, which revealed that the legislature should not have included the discount scheme in the law, but that it was up to ACM to set such discounts on the tariffs.

In March 2023, ACM published the study into the VCR for public consultation. The opinions that ACM had received did not lead to any changes to the results of the study. In a joint opinion, system operators subscribe to the finding that companies that receive the discount on the basis of the VCR do no produce lower costs. The majority of the other opinions came from companies that received a volume discount over the past couple of years. These companies argue that discontinuation of the VCR will have negative consequences for their competitive positions and for the level playing field in Europe. That is why they are in favor of a transition scheme or a replacement discount scheme. In addition, companies indicate that, without the VCR, they will be able to make fewer investments in the energy transition.

Continuation of the volume discount for a small group of large-scale users will lead to a situation where other electricity consumers need to pay more than the actual costs they produce. This is at odds with European laws, which stipulate that system tariffs must be based on the actual costs. When setting the tariffs for system operators, ACM cannot take into consideration the competitive positions (national or international) of companies.

The discount scheme also does not fit with the increasing need for flexibility as a result of the energy transition and current congestion problems. The VCR rewards users with stable consumption patterns, and, as such, does not stimulate large-scale users to change their consumption to, for example, the availability of sustainable energy from wind turbines and solar panels, which is something that will actually become increasingly necessary in the energy transition. The VCR therefore does not contribute towards the energy transition.

In a letter, ACM has informed the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy (EZK) about the discontinuation of the VCR. ACM has published on its website this letter together with the opinions received, as well as a presentation regarding the response to these opinions.

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