The Heat Act is only a few years old but is already being changed. The upcoming review should lead to a better functioning protection of tied consumers who are dealing with a monopolist as a heat supplier. In addition, the review aims to bring regulations for collective heat regulation closer to future developments in the context of the energy transition. On 6 March 2018, the House of Representatives voted on the revision of the Heat Act. The proposal was adopted with 123 votes in favor, and 27 against.
A number of important changes relate to the tariff regulation. Although for the time being the calculation of the price for the supply component of heat, the gas reference is maintained, improvements are made in the method of calculating the maximum price.
In addition, for a number of new elements in the tariff regulation (the one-off connection fee, the costs for closure and the rates for making delivery sets available), the maximum rates are based on the actual costs and no longer on a gas reference. In addition, suppliers and buyers are given the opportunity to choose a different tariff for the supply of heat by mutual agreement than on the basis of the statutory regime.
Prior to the vote on 6 March last, several motions were submitted and one amendment was proposed. The amendment was withdrawn before the start of the vote. This amendment was intended to completely abandon the link with the price of natural gas (the not-more-than-different principle).
The Party for the Animals has issued a (counter) explanation of vote. She sees the use of residual heat from polluting industries as not fully sustainable, and says she wants to prevent people from being stuck with this residual heat for a long period of time and thus putting real sustainability into a state of postponement. Long-term contracts of twenty, perhaps thirty years in combination with the present amendment to the Heat Act would lead to lock-ins, and dependence on unsustainable sources that you would no longer just get rid of.
Of the total of 17 motions submitted, 7 have been adopted and we will briefly discuss them below.
a. Motion of the member Beckerman et al. [Kamerstukken II 2017/18, 34 723, 11] Beckerman et al. notes that homes must be able to heat gas-free as quickly as possible. Alternatives are often more expensive for residents and the no-more-than-different principle would no longer be sustainable in the longer term. It makes a request to the government to focus on the affordability of alternative heat, by, among other things, drawing up control mechanisms on the booked costs.
b. Motion of the member Beckerman et al. [Parliamentary Papers II 2017/18, 34 723, 12] Beckerman et al. Notes that certain heat grids are connected to fossil sources and consider that the dependence on fossil sources is maintained. The intended sustainability would be destroyed by this and she requests the government to prevent this so-called lock-in as much as possible.
c. Motion of the members Yesilgöz-Zegerius and Jetten [Parliamentary Papers II 2017/18, 34 723, 13] In this motion the members consider that heat networks play an increasing role in the heat supply for households and businesses and that large, open transport networks are necessary for this heat supply. In addition, they are considering that a form of independent grid management of heating networks provides access and therefore competition on the market for (new) parties and choice for the customer. They also note that a number of regions are already working on the development of large heat transport networks.
In this resolution they ask the government to investigate when and how the split between production and supply of heat on the one hand and heat transfer and grid management on the other is possible with a view to improving the functioning of the market and further preserving the heat supply.
d. Motion of the members Jetten and Dik-Faber [Parliamentary Papers II 2017/18, 34 723, 20] The members observe that heat networks can be fed by different heat sources and that the 'footprint' can vary greatly from one heat source to another. They also consider that the sustainability of the heat supply should be part of the consultation with market parties for the Climate Agreement. Insight into and continuous improvement of the CO2 performance of heating networks is also desirable.
The members request the government to consult with the industry on how users can be informed in an accessible manner about the heat source and the degree of sustainability (for example via a future-proof CO2 performance label). It is also requested to make agreements with the sector about the greening of the heating networks and to come up with proposals to further stimulate sustainability.
e. Motion of the members Dik-Faber and Jetten [Parliamentary Papers II 2017/18, 34 723, 22] In this motion, the members consider that it is important for the transition of the heat supply to save energy ("step one from the triad energetics ") is not skipped. They request the government, together with, among others, the heat companies and the construction sector to give substance to a combination of energy saving and sustainable heat.
f. Motion of the Van der Lee member [Parliamentary Papers II 2017/18, 34 723, 24] Van der Lee notes that both the installation and the maintenance of the delivery sets are exclusively reserved to the heat supplier for safety reasons. Van der Lee is of the opinion that this impedes market forces and competition, which can have adverse consequences for the price that the heat consumer has to pay. He asks the government to investigate whether delivery sets that meet the right requirements can also be produced by other parties in the future. As a result of that investigation, it would then be possible to decide on the marketing of the delivery sets.
g. Changed motion of the member Dik-Faber cs [Parliamentary Papers II 2017/18, 34 723, 29] In this motion, the member of parliament Dik-Faber asks the government to investigate, in the run-up to the Heat Act 2.0, what alternatives there are for the gas reference NMDA .
Continued and questions?
On March 13, 2018, the Senate Committee for Economic Affairs and Climate / Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality will discuss the further preparation of the bill.