NMa imposes fines totaling €1.5 million on energy companies for violating Dutch Gas and Electricity Acts
The Netherlands Competition Authority (NMa) has imposed fines, totaling more than €1.5 million, on three Dutch regional grid operators, Rendo, Essent and Continuon. The regional grid operators have not compensated on time more than 4,750 of their customers that suffered power failures of more than four hours.
Under the compensation scheme, customers of grid operators are automatically entitled to a standard compensation after suffering power failures. The scheme is to encourage grid operators to resolve such failures as quickly as possible. A small-scale client's compensation amount for a failure that lasts four to eight hours is €35. That amount is increased with an additional €20 for every four hours that the failure is still not resolved after those initial eight hours. By not applying the compensation scheme in full, the grid operators harmed their customers' interests, including consumer interests. The grid operators are legally obliged to pay the compensation amount with the first annual or monthly payment after the failure took place.
Rendo Netbeheer B.V. has not paid on time compensation amounts to about half of their customers that experienced a power failure between January 1st, 2004 and August 1st, 2007. A total of 620 customers suffered a power failure during that period. The total amount of compensations that have not been paid is more than €11,000. Rendo customers were only paid a compensation if they claimed one from Rendo themselves, whereas the law requires grid operators to pay out the compensation automatically. Rendo still refuses to compensate customers that were hit by a power failure between January 1st, 2004 and December 31st, 2006. Rendo's fine has therefore been raised, and now stands at €106,000. Furthermore, the NMa imposes an order for incremental payments of €5,000 per week, forcing Rendo to compensate its customers, with a maximum of €50,000. Rendo is the grid operator in the regions of Southern Drenthe and Northern Overijssel.
Essent Netwerk B.V. is imposed a fine of €890,000, because its registration system for power and gas failures did not adequately function between December 1st, 2006 and July 31st, 2007. As a result, it was unable to compensate on time more than 2,700 customers, which is approximately ten per cent of the total number of affected customers. Compensations in this case total more than €100,000. Essent Netwerk is the operator of the electricity grids and gas networks in the provinces of North-Brabant, Limburg, and in large parts of the Northeast of the Netherlands. In determining the level of the fine, the NMa took into account the fact that Essent has fixed its registration system by now and that it has already compensated its customers. The NMa has therefore reduced the fine of this grid operator.
N.V. Continuon Netbeheer is fined €552,000 for not compensating on time more than 1,700 customers (approximately five per cent of the total number of affected customers) that suffered power failures between December 1st, 2006 and July 31st, 2007. Compensations in this case total more than €60,000. Continuon is the operator of the electricity grids and gas networks in, among others, the provinces of Gelderland and North-Holland. In determining the level of the fine, the NMa took into account the fact that it has already compensated its customers. The NMa has therefore reduced the fine of this grid operator.