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ACM warns about fixed contracts with prices above the price cap

The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) warns consumers about taking out new fixed contracts with prices above the price cap. The price cap will be lifted on January 1, 2024, which means that, from that date onwards, consumers will again pay the prices in their energy contracts. Consumers that wish to terminate their fixed contracts early will, in most cases, have to pay early-termination fees.

The maximum prices of the price cap (0.40 euros per kWh for electricity and 1.45 euros per m3 for natural gas) continue to apply until January 1, 2024. The Monitor on the consumer energy market has revealed that there are still three suppliers that offer new fixed contracts with prices above the price cap. These are HEM (0.70 or 0.91 euros for electricity and 2.19 or €2.67 euro for natural gas), OM|nieuwe energie (0.43 euros for electricity and 1.50 euros for natural gas), and PrikEnergie (with only its price for electricity above the price cap, 0.44 euros per kWh). Customers that take out fixed contracts from these suppliers now will thus pay these higher contract prices starting January 1.

The Monitor on the consumer energy market has also revealed that consumers have plenty to choose from with regard to contracts with prices below the price cap. Consumers looking for certainty regarding their energy bills during the upcoming winter period can thus opt for fixed contracts with prices below the price cap. In addition, many competitively priced variable and dynamic energy contracts are also available. ACM advises consumers to think carefully about what type of contract best meets their personal needs.

Edwin van Houten, Director of ACM’s Consumer Department, adds: “The new heating season is just around the corner, so this is a good time to check whether your energy contract is ‘winter-ready’. The price cap will be lifted in the middle of the winter period, which means that consumers will again pay the prices in their energy contracts. As households consume more natural gas and electricity during the winter period, this can easily make a difference of several tens to several hundreds of euros per month”.

Tips for choosing a new contract

ACM advises consumers that wish to take out a new contract to compare the offers of different suppliers carefully. Unsolicited offers, for example over the phone or at their doorsteps, are actually never the best choice for anyone. That is why ACM warns consumers to remain alert to such practices, and not to accept an unsolicited offer from a supplier just like that. Read more tips for taking out new energy contracts on ACM ConsuWijzer (in Dutch).

ACM’s oversight

ACM conducts oversight over energy suppliers. ACM assesses whether suppliers are well prepared for the winter period, and whether they are thus able to supply natural gas and electricity to consumers in a reliable manner. If ACM identifies risks to a supplier’s financial stability, that supplier will have to submit a recovery plan on how to eliminate those risks as quickly as possible. If a supplier is no longer able to ensure a reliable supply, ACM can revoke their license. Furthermore, if necessary, ACM takes action against misleading customer-attraction practices, and ACM oversees the tariffs. Energy suppliers are statutorily prohibited from charging unreasonable prices. However, prices can be high, yet still not unreasonable. Energy suppliers must be able to pay their own costs for delivery of energy, and are allowed to keep a little extra on top of that. That little extra cannot be too much. If the tariffs turn out to be unreasonable, ACM will take action.

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