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ACM: heat supplier NEXT NRG to keep a record of disruptions and to compensate users properly

Dutch heat supplier NEXT NRG must structurally keep a proper record of disruptions to the heat system in State, an apartment building in the city of Amsterdam, and must also publish this record. In addition, NEXT NRG must pay out compensations for disruptions lasting 8 hours or longer in accordance with the provisions in the Dutch Heat Act. If NEXT NRG fails to comply with the rules, it will have to pay penalty payments of up to 250,000 euros. This has been the decision following a request for enforcement filed with the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) by a resident of State.

This resident has asked ACM to take enforcement action, because NEXT NRG does not publish any record of disruptions, and does not properly register when disruptions begin and end either. ACM’s investigation has revealed that, when registering disruptions, NEXT NRG does not look at the time of when the heat system has broken down, but instead looks at whether or not the room temperature in homes has dropped below 20 degrees Celsius. The investigation has also shown that NEXT NRG only pays out compensations if a disruption has lasted at least 24 hours, whereas they are statutorily required to do so if a disruption has lasted at least 8 hours. This means that residents receive too low compensations for disruptions to the heat system. NEXT NRG has additionally failed to inform users properly about their right to reimbursement in case of reduced quality, as required by law.

Heat suppliers must publish information about disruptions so that customers are able to check whether they are entitled to compensations. If a disruption lasts 8 hours or longer, users may be entitled to compensations. Heat suppliers must pay out such compensations automatically within six months after the disruption. Heat consumers should not have to file a request in order to receive such compensations.

NEXT NRG argues that it is not required to comply with the Dutch Heat Act, because it merely owns and maintains the system, and should therefore not be considered a heat supplier. ACM does not follow NEXT NRG’s line of reasoning. NEXT NRG owns the system, supplies heat, and is therefore the heat supplier of the residents of said apartment building. NEXT NRG must therefore comply with the requirements laid down in the Dutch Heat Act, and must ensure the supply of heat is reliable. ACM expects that, following this decision, NEXT NRG will take its responsibility, and will make sure that the supply of heat is reliable.
The provisional-relief judge has largely turned down a request for a preliminary injunction against the enforcement decision sought by NEXT NRG.

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