Enexis studies outcome of ‘gas leaver’ lawsuit

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That happened in a case that the South Drenthe network operator Rendo had brought against a customer from Meppel. He refused to order the grid operator to remove his connection, even though he no longer used gas.

After a year of insistence, Rendo decided to take matters into its own hands and to remove the gas connection anyway, whereby the network operator relied on legal obligations and safety regulations. The customer received a bill for 400 euros, but refused to pay it. The judge upheld the man because he had not ordered the connection to be removed. The passing on of closing costs is also not mentioned in the Gas Act.

Law change on the way

The joint grid operators in our country, including Enexis in our province, say they are studying the ruling and its consequences. It is still unclear to what extent the case sets a precedent.

There is already a change in the law in the making, stating that the costs for removing a gas connection fifty-fifty are divided between customer and grid operator. This will probably take effect on 1 January 2021. The House of Representatives and the Senate have already agreed; we are now waiting for a recommendation from the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) to Minister Wiebes (Economic Affairs).

Costs at Enexis: 217 to 752 euros

The high costs of removing gas connections have been causing a lot of annoyance for people who want to get rid of gas for years, for example because they have had a heat pump installed. They speak scornfully of a ‘closing fine’, while they set a good example by not using gas anymore. Enexis has also been involved several times in disputes about this, says spokesman Jan Bakker.

If Enexis customers want to get rid of gas, it will currently cost 217.26 euros for high-rise buildings. 752.55 euros is charged for low-rise buildings. A hefty price tag, but according to Bakker it is about the actual costs.

Entire leadership must go

In low-rise buildings, the connection pipe will be removed from the main pipe in the street to the meter cupboard in the house. This often also means that the entire garden has to be dug open.

‘We are obliged to clean up the entire pipeline. Environmental legislation requires that you do not assets in the ground. Also, plugging a gas pipe is not allowed, because that is potentially dangerous and is only allowed temporarily, for a year. If you do not remove such a pipe, you must maintain it. Logical, because there is gas pressure on it. Naturally, this maintenance entails costs. We have to pass this on, ‘says Bakker.

Small numbers

Last year, 474 addresses in our province wanted to get rid of gas. In 2018, Enexis received 694 shutdown requests from Groningen. ‘Nationally, we are seeing an increase, but the numbers are still small: 3,023 people wanted to get rid of their gas connection for the approximately 2.3 million gas connections that we manage from Groningen to Maastricht last year,’ says Bakker.

According to him, the growing number of ‘gas leavers’ is not yet leading to higher costs for the lagging customers. ‘It only concerns individual cases now. Ultimately, however, lagging gas customers will pay a higher rate, which is inevitable. ‘

‘The big blow is expected in a few years’ time when municipalities come up with a district-by-district approach to replace gas with other heating methods, such as heat pumps or heat networks.’

Also read:
– ‘Gasless’ farmer: ‘I am pissed off and think it’s shameless’
– ‘At this rate, the Netherlands will only be off gas in 280 years’ (2019)
– Groningers and parties: should home owners receive money to get rid of gas? (2019)

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