ACM launches consultation of policy rule regarding the return assessment for heat
The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) has invited heat suppliers and user organizations to submit their opinions about the policy rule regarding the return assessment for heat (in Dutch: beleidsregel voor de rendementstoets warmte). With this return assessment, ACM can assess whether or not returns of heat suppliers are reasonable. If their returns are unreasonable, ACM can launch a further investigation into the returns of heat suppliers, and, if necessary, take action with regard to future heat tariffs.
The return assessment is a temporary measure that seeks to prevent heat suppliers from earning returns that are higher than reasonable, and thus seeks to protect consumers’ interests. The current Dutch Heat Act stipulates that ACM must set the maximum heat tariffs on the basis of the ‘no-more-than-otherwise principle’ (in Dutch: ‘niet-meer-dan-anders-principe’). This means that ACM must set the supply tariff on the basis of the natural-gas reference price. On numerous occasions, ACM has already indicated that it is a proponent of setting heat supply tariffs on the basis of the actual costs (efficient costs) of heat suppliers. In that case, the maximum heat supply tariffs would be calculated on the basis of the actual costs of heat suppliers and on a reasonable return, rendering the return assessment no longer necessary (as both seek, in essence, the same objective).
ACM has published for consultation the policy rule as well as the RAR (Regulatory Accounting Rules for heat suppliers) and the WACC (the reasonable return for heat suppliers) for the return assessment. The consultation period for the WACC calculation method runs through 9 September 2022. The consultation period for the policy rule and the RAR runs through 30 September 2022. ACM expects to publish the definitive policy rule and the WACC and RAR by the end of the year.