At the request of the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM), two businesses that sell investment opportunities in wind-turbine projects to consumers have adjusted the information they provide to consumers. Consumers can invest in large projects involving solar panels or wind power, for example if they do not have space for solar panels at home. ACM finds sustainability very important. That is why, in these kinds of sustainability initiatives, too, consumers must be informed properly about the costs, the expected returns, and the risks. Participating in such projects cannot curtail the consumer’s freedom to choose their own energy supplier in any way. ACM has conducted an investigation into two businesses that offer wind-turbine projects. The investigation revealed that, at both businesses, there was still room for improvement with regard to their information for consumers.
At one of the two businesses, Windcentrale, ACM saw that consumers could be informed more properly about the consequences of reselling their shares in a wind farm. Following a request from ACM, Windcentrale adjusted its information in May 2021. At the other business, Greenchoice, consumers were not informed sufficiently about the expected returns and the conditions that apply in the case of any excess returns on the investment. Furthermore, ACM found the costs that Greenchoice charged for terminating the investment to be too high. Greenchoice remedied these shortcomings at the request of ACM, and completed its adjustments on 1 October 2021.
It is important that the conditions and the expected returns and risks are clear to consumers in advance. In that way, consumers are able to decide for themselves whether or not they are making a sound, green investment. It must be clear to consumers at what point their investment is paid back, and what happens if a wind farm generates more electricity (or less electricity) than originally planned.
The consumer’s freedom to choose their own energy supplier
With investments in wind turbines, part of the generated electricity is often deducted from the energy bill as a ‘discount’. In order to get that discount, consumers must take out an energy contract with a specific energy supplier. Since consumers always have the freedom to choose their own energy supplier, that requirement is only permitted if, when terminating their energy contracts, consumers are able to sell their shares in wind turbines at a reasonable price, and are then able to switch suppliers. Suppliers must inform consumers properly about this process too.
On the website of ACM’s consumer information portal ConsuWijzer, consumers are able to find tips on investing in sustainable-energy projects.