Protect Dutch consumers against energy suppliers' money problems: Consumers assoc.

Thirteen of the 30 major energy suppliers in the Netherlands have major debts, Consumentenbond concluded based on an analysis of their annual reports. The consumers' association therefore wants Minister Eric Wiebes of Economic Affairs to better protect consumers against the consequences of an energy supplier going bankrupt, reports.

"The energy market has become a fighting market, where companies compete fiercely on price. That in itself is good for consumers, but only as long as it is done responsibly. There is not enough insight into that now", Consumentenbond director Sandra Molenaar said. "A high debt burden doesn't automatically mean a company will go bankrupt, but it is the writing on the wall."

It is impossible for consumers to check the financial health of their energy company. Which is why the consumers' association considers a form of customer protection necessary. The association believes victims should be compensated for an excess of energy tax, VAT and network costs in the event of a bankruptcy. The Minister must also oblige energy companies that take customers over from a bankrupt supplier to also take over the financial obligations towards the customer, such as welcome discounts that have not yet been paid or account surplusses.

Consumentenbond also wants the Dutch authority on consumers and markets ACM to have more possibilities to intervene in the energy sector. "We believe that the minister should broaden the powers of the ACM, so that it can look much earlier and deeper into the figures of the energy suppliers and set stricter entry requirements", Molenaar said, according to the newspaper.

In the meantime, Consumentenbond calls on consumers to pay no more than their monthly amount. Many people deliberately pay an excessive amount, to build up a surplus. But if the energy supplier goes bankrupt, there is a chance that this overpaid amount will not be reimbursed.