Having carried out an investigation, the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) has informed charging network operator Allego that it has objections against Allego’s practice of buying and selling power itself for its charging stations for electric vehicles (EV). Allego has adjusted its practices by now. ACM failed to find any indications that network operator Liander has favored Allego over competitors. In addition, ACM did not find any violations committed by Allego. The investigation was launched in 2015, following complaints filed by market participants.
Dutch Electricity Act attaches conditions
Allego, a subsidiary of distribution system operator (DSO) Alliander, is an operator of charging stations for electrical vehicles. Alliander is also the parent of regulated network operator Liander. That is why certain conditions apply to Allego’s activities. For example, Allego cannot supply electricity (within the meaning of the Dutch Electricity Act) nor trade in it. In addition, Liander cannot give Allego preferential treatment over Allego’s competitors. This is how the legislature sought to ensure that the importance of proper and independent network management will not be jeopardized.
Allego adjust its practices at the insistence of ACM
Following complaints filed by market participants concerning Allego’s activities, ACM launched an investigation in the spring of 2015. ACM found that Allego bought the power for its EV charging stations itself, and that it passed on the costs thereof, through the Mobility Service Provider, to customers who charged their vehicles at its stations. In ACM’s opinion, this practice constituted the selling of electricity, and that it could be at odds with the prohibition to supply electricity by DSOs.
Having sat down with ACM, Allego decided to adjust its practices. Allego no longer buys and sells the power it uses for its EV charging stations. Users of Allego’s charging stations now buy power from an independent electricity supplier. This supplier charges the Mobility Service Provider for the power that is consumed, and it also charges the costs for the use of the station on behalf of Allego. As a result, electric-vehicle drivers are able to gain insight into their usage of the charging stations and into their costs of the power consumed. It thus becomes easier to compare charging prices.
No indications of preferential treatment of Allego over competitors
ACM also looked into whether Liander unlawfully favored Allego. Market participants suspected that DSO Alliander or network operator Liander gave Allego certain benefits that went beyond what is normal in day-to-day business. These alleged benefits were said to have included financial support from Liander, and that Liander realized Allego’s connections faster and under more favorable conditions than those of competitors. Based on information received from Allego and other market participants, ACM was unable to conclude that Liander gave Allego preferential treatment. It should be noted that the Dutch Electricity Act only imposes restrictions on the relationship between Liander and Allego. The law does not contain any regulations regarding the financial relationship between parent company Alliander and Allego.