In the summer, Vattenfall proudly reported that it was able to keep the price increase within limits through “smart buying”. This does not work anymore?
In the international market for natural gas, purchase prices rose further only due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the cessation of gas supplies to Europe. Usually, energy companies adjust their prices twice a year, on January 1 and July 1, but Vattenfall doesn’t want to wait for that and raises the price further on October 1.
While other power companies have already raised their prices significantly, Vattenfall has been able to last into the summer with long-term contracts with which they have bought power at cheaper rates. “At that time we were still able to curb the price increase, but that’s not really possible anymore,” says a spokesperson for the company, which has many customers in Amsterdam because of its predecessors Nuon and GEB (the municipal energy company).
How high will the price go?
This of course varies for different households, depending on the heating behavior, how well the house is insulated and whether there are solar panels on the roof. In all the energy companies together, nearly half of the Dutch have a permanent contract of more than a year, and therefore much lower prices. With the variable pricing increase, Vattenfall customers will average €250 per month starting October 1. According to the energy company, this is an average increase of €75 per month, plus an increase of €11 on April 1 and €20 on July 1.
When summer came and the stove could be turned off, the price increase was still under control. Now with winter coming and heating becoming a basic necessity of life, the price is rising exponentially.
According to Vattenfall, there’s nothing else to do. “The purchase price is so high that we haven’t seen any other options.” Spring and summer is usually a good time for Vattenfall to buy gas again if the price drops after winter. But this year, the price has continued to rise, peaking in the past few weeks when Russia cut supplies to Europe. In addition, it is very important for customers that they cannot switch to another power supplier. At least it’s possible, but energy companies are charging much higher prices for new customers.
Online customers complain about stone and bone. They are often referring to the multimillion-dollar profit that Vattenfall, a Swedish state-owned company, announced earlier this summer.
At the energy company, they realize this is causing a frown, but the 990 million profit that Wattenfall booked in the first half of the year, according to a spokesperson, wasn’t the result of prices that actually rebounded. A large part of the profits consist of one-time unexpected gains. “It’s not like we’re making more profit at the expense of customers. Profit doesn’t automatically increase as a percentage along with turnover. Of course, we just need a healthy operating result so we can continue investing in wind and solar energy, for example.”
Has Vattenfall already noticed that customers are having problems paying?
Believes. You can’t name the numbers, but Vattenfall sends twice as many customers to www.geldfit.nl, a portal for help with debt and other financial problems. The energy company is also measuring the growing concern through its website, where customers can ask for advice on how much they can use to cover their annual consumption. 250,000 customers do this every week.
Some customers leave installment amount On the old low, probably because they couldn’t pay the bill otherwise. The result will be that they will lose a large amount in one go with the annual settlement, which is why Vattenfall strongly advises against doing this. “Then they bury their heads in the sand for the irrevocable bill.”
Are district heating rates rising too?
The roughly fifty thousand Amsterdam residents who don’t have gas but the Vattenfall district heating don’t see the costs going up yet. Unlike gas and electricity prices, central heating prices may only be adjusted once a year, on January 1.
On social media, customers are grumbling that they haven’t been informed yet. Why do they hear it through the media?
Vattenfall started reporting new pricing last week. Fifty thousand customers a day receive a message about it, so that all 2 million customers are notified after three weeks, but on Monday, the sharp price increase actually attracted a lot of attention in the media without customers being able to find anything about it through the power supplier. “We would like to inform our customers first, but it appears that many journalists are also our customers.”
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