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ACM: the tariffs of energy suppliers Budget Thuis, Greenchoice and ENGIE are not unreasonable

An investigation conducted by the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) into the tariffs for the supply of electricity and natural gas of Dutch energy suppliers Budget Thuis, Greenchoice, and ENGIE (including its subsidiary UnitedConsumers) has revealed that these suppliers did not charge unreasonable tariffs in the first quarter of 2023.

ACM conducted an extensive investigation into these energy suppliers. This investigation showed that the profits earned from their current tariffs are not higher than those earned in previous years. In 2022, the normalized net profit (the profit earned from supplying energy) of Budget Thuis, Greenchoice, and ENGIE (excluding its subsidiary UnitedConsumers) was between 0 and 5 percent. In 2022, UnitedConsumers earned a higher profit because they used a different strategy, which generates higher profits in one year and lower profits in the other. ACM does not consider the tariffs of UnitedConsumers to be unreasonable, because, in 2022, these tariffs were competitive with the tariffs of other suppliers.

Consumers are still paying high prices for natural gas and electricity. This is because energy suppliers still pay high prices when purchasing natural gas and electricity. On top of these purchase costs, suppliers also need to spend more on insurance against risks on the volatile energy market. ACM had previously investigated the tariffs of energy suppliers Eneco, Essent and Vattenfall, and concluded that these were not unreasonable.

Today, ACM also published a new version of the Monitor on the consumer energy market (in Dutch: Monitor Consumentenmarkt Energie). The Monitor shows that the tariffs for new variable contracts for natural gas and electricity went down by 12 percent. In addition, 20 energy suppliers charge tariffs that are below the price cap. Since there are substantial differences between contracts, consumers truly have a choice now, and it can pay off to take out a new contract, either with their current supplier or with a different one.

The Monitor also reveals that a number of suppliers that offer fixed energy contracts has increased slightly, and that more consumers choose to take out a fixed energy contract. The number of households with a dynamic energy contract (where energy prices can change each day or each hour) has increased greatly, with an increase of 20 percent in March.

Martijn Snoep, Chairman of the Board of ACM, adds: “Many people suspected that energy suppliers would abuse the high prices to boost their profits. However, this turned out not to be true. Our investigations into the 6 largest energy suppliers have shown that, after subtracting all costs, they did not earn abnormal profits from the supply of energy to consumers. Now that the wholesale prices for energy continue to go down, we expect the suppliers’ tariffs to go down as well and not remain close to the price cap. We will keep a close watch on those tariffs.”

Intensified oversight over the energy market to remain in place

Over the last several months, ACM has carried out investigations into the tariffs of the 6 largest energy suppliers, and has concluded that these were not unreasonable. With these investigations, 75 percent of the total market has been subjected to extensive and on-site investigations. At the moment, ACM sees no reason for launching new on-site investigations. Going forward, the intensified oversight of energy suppliers will predominantly focus on the regular tariff changes, which all companies are required to notify ACM of. ACM will particularly look at the prices that are formed above and around the price cap, as well as at suppliers that set their prices slightly above the price cap, but also offer customers sign-up bonuses. ACM will subsequently investigate any tariff changes that are out of the ordinary. In addition, ACM will further shape and intensify its oversight with the knowledge it has gained. The goal of its oversight is that consumers are able to have confidence that they are getting a fair offer.

ACM Energy monitors

The Monitor on the consumer energy market (in Dutch) shows the tariffs of all contracts that all suppliers offered to new customers on May 1, 2023. On our customer information portal ACM ConsuWijzer (in Dutch), we also give tips and advice when choosing a new energy contract. Each month, ACM also publishes the Monitor on wholesale tariffs for electricity with information about price trends on the wholesale markets in the Netherlands and Europe. We update the Monitor on wholesale tariffs and security of supply of natural gas every week.

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