Plans for a unified grid distribution rate
With different rates charged by grid distribution controllers inter-municipal companies, two identical households with similar consumption patterns and the same supplier can end up paying a difference of as much as 260 euros each year. These differences are not only limited to the two umbrella grid controllers Eandis and Infrax. The biggest variance can be found between inter-municipal companies within the Eandis network, with consumers of the Antwerp Imea enjoying the lowest rates and customers of Gaselwest active in the south of West and East Flanders paying the most. This inequality is due to geographic and historic developments if one considers that grid expansion and maintenance in densely populated urban areas with hundreds of thousands of consumers are less costly than in sparsely populated rural areas with only a handful of households paying for expensive power lines. Some weeks ago Flemish energy minister Freya Van den Bossche’s SP.A announced her plan to introduce a single grid rate in response to major grid controller Eandis’s earlier call for uniform rates. This unified tariff will become effective once the Flemish government has brought into line the cost of various levies ranging from allowances for solar panel to insulation premiums and social measures, which are added to the energy bill. Here, too, considerable variations exist, with costs of inter-municipal companies hiking in areas with a high concentration of solar parks. “It makes sense that costs caused by Flemish policy, such as green current, are equally distributed across Flanders,” Van den Bossche said yesterday. In addition to the co-ordination of these additional costs, Eandis and Infrax will also be encouraged to increase efficiency, merge their internal structures and eventually set a unified rate for the network they manage. The next step would be a unified rate for the entire Flanders region. So far Infrax has been reluctant to give in as their average rates are currently below those charged by Eandis. It is as yet unclear when exactly these measures will be introduced, as it all depends on the timing of the new state reform and the devolution of this portfolio to the regions. Van den Bossche is aiming for January 2016. As the current grid distribution rates will apply until the end of next year, rates will remain frozen for another year in 2015.