All heat suppliers in the Netherlands must keep a record of all disruptions, and publish such overviews on their websites. Many of the heat suppliers that the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) looked at only published a limited overview of disruptions to the supply of heat (or do not even publish one at all). Customers thus have difficulties finding out whether they were sufficiently compensated for such disruptions. This has been revealed by an enquiry ACM carried out among 40 heat suppliers. ACM expressly asked them to get their registration systems in order, which are mandatory, and to publish their overviews. Most suppliers were immediately prepared to do so. ACM may impose fines or orders subject to periodic penalty payments.
Easily accessible information
ACM finds it important that the disruption registration system is easily accessible. Customers must be able to see in a simple manner whether they are entitled to disruption compensation. They need to have at least the following information:
- The date and time of when the disruption started
- The duration of the disruption
- The cause of the disruption
- The heat network or project where the disruption took place including the number of affected users.
Right to compensation
Heat customers are entitled to compensation for disruptions that last over 8 hours. They receive 35 euros for a disruption that lasted between 8 and 12 hours. For each additional 4-hour period beyond those initial 12 hours, they are entitled to an extra amount of 20 euros. Heat suppliers must keep a record of all disruptions, and must award compensations within 6 months after solving the disruption. Customers should not have to file a request for compensation.
Exemption from the right to compensation
Heat suppliers do not have to award compensations if the disruption lasted no more than 24 hours, and it was the first disruption in the last 12 months. In addition, suppliers are allowed to disrupt the supply of heat without having to compensate for network maintenance purposes on the condition that they inform customers of the maintenance works at least 3 days in advance.
Consumer protection for heat users
In the energy transition, more and more households receive individual-building heating and district heating. They are entitled to a secure supply of heat, at transparent prices, and under reasonable conditions. ACM’s intervention regarding the disruption registration systems contributes towards the protection of heat consumers.