Errors discovered in energy bills when returning solar panels | NOW

Owners of solar panels complain on internet forums and with Vereniging Eigen Huis about errors in their energy bill. Energy suppliers are increasingly working with rates that are adjusted monthly or even hourly. Netting sometimes also takes place every month, while according to the law this should be done on an annual basis.

This is the conclusion reached by consumer organizations Independer and Vereniging Eigen Huis after questions from The Netherlands Authority for Consumers & Markets (ACM) has announced that owners of solar panels who encounter errors can submit a complaint. The Energy Act states that suppliers are obliged to pay off per contract year.

Netting means that households can offset the power generated by the solar panels against the amount of power used in the house. The energy supplier pays a relatively low producer rate for the electricity generated, which is supplemented by the government to the consumer rate.

It is a subsidy measure that ensures that solar panels are financially attractive to purchase. Many homeowners with solar panels have little or no need to pay for electricity. About two million households have solar panels on their roofs.

Complaints are made on the forum of tech site Tweakers, among others, that netting no longer takes place on an annual basis. The big disadvantage is that in the autumn and winter you can no longer take advantage of the electricity that is mainly generated in the spring and summer. Certainly residents of a house with an electric heat pump are therefore considerably more expensive.

Uncertainty about variable rates

A complaint has also been received on the Independer forum, says Joris Kerkhof, energy expert at the comparison site. “We do indeed see that some energy suppliers come up with a monthly settlement and therefore also implement the netting monthly,” he concludes after a short investigation.

“In some cases, it is also possible that the contract is misinterpreted. For example, there are providers who fix the rate for three months, but in principle these are variable contracts with an annual settlement. I think it is the task of energy suppliers to properly explain how their contracts work.”

The complaints are also known to Vereniging Eigen Huis. Tax lawyer Bobby Raghoenath has since sought redress from ACM on behalf of the association. “We hear from members that netting is no longer done on an annual basis, but the ACM has pointed out to us that it has been laid down by law. So customers can raise it with their energy supplier.”

The fact that the problem is occurring now has to do with the energy crisis and war in Ukraine. Energy suppliers hardly offer permanent contracts anymore and because energy prices go up and down, they adjust their rates more often.

According to Raghoenath, this creates even more uncertainty among consumers. “The problem is that there are no rules about which rate an energy supplier can use as a starting point for netting. You would say that an average is the most just, but the question is whether that is feasible for suppliers who set a different rate every month. .”

The Netherlands Authority for Consumers & Markets has not yet reprimanded energy suppliers that make monthly payments, but it does have the option to intervene if concrete complaints are received by the regulator’s ConsuWijzer.