With a maximum price for gas and electricity, the government wants to ease the pain of the sky-high energy bill for many households. The measure is intended to prevent people from being left out in the cold next winter. Although the plan has not yet been fully worked out, NU.nl has already listed the most important points.
What exactly does the price ceiling mean?
This means that there will be a maximum price for gas and electricity. As it looks now, this is a maximum of 1.50 euros per cubic meter of gas and 0.70 euros per kilowatt hour of electricity. That’s especially nice for those who now pay higher rates. These are mainly households with a variable contract. For example, if you now have to pay 3 euros for 1 cubic meter of gas, you will soon pay only 1.50 euros due to the price ceiling.
There are limits to this: you can use a maximum of 1,200 cubic meters of gas and 2,400 kilowatt hours of electricity per year. Once you get above it, you will pay the rate stated in your contract. So whoever consumes 1,500 cubic meters of gas within a year, pays the rate of 1.50 euros on the first 1,200 cubic meters. For the other 300 cubic meters you pay the rate charged by your energy supplier, for example 3 euros.
What if my rates are lower than the maximum rates?
Then you are one of the lucky ones and the measure has no consequences for you yet. This only becomes relevant when you have to switch to a new contract with potentially higher rates.
When does the price cap take effect?
The ceiling is due to go into effect on January 1, and will remain in effect throughout the year. But the cabinet is already trying to introduce an intermediate variant on 1 November. So in just over a month you should already be able to take advantage of the maximum rates.
How much money will this save me?
This of course depends on the rates in your current contract and how much gas and electricity you use per year. But the following calculation example does give an indication.
Suppose you consume 1,200 cubic meters of gas and 2,400 kilowatt-hours of electricity next year – exactly the maximum that the cabinet sets – then your entire energy consumption falls within the price ceiling. You then pay 1,800 euros (1,200 x 1.50 euros) for gas and 1,680 euros (2,400 x 0.70 euros) for electricity. In total, that is 3,480 euros per year, or 290 euros per month.
Please note, this only applies to those who now pay rates that are higher than the price ceiling. If you have lower rates in your contract, nothing will change for you for the time being.
What if I still can’t afford it?
The cabinet has announced several other measures to help people in financial need. This year, for example, there is an energy surcharge of 1,300 euros for low incomes. That allowance will also be there next year. The minimum wage and benefits will also increase, as will housing and health care benefits. The government hopes that this will prevent many households from ending up in debt relief.
Why does the cabinet assume 2,400 kilowatt hours of electricity and 1,200 cubic meters of gas?
These limits have been deliberately chosen, because exactly half of Dutch households are below this consumption. The cabinet hopes that people who now consume more will reduce their consumption because of the price ceiling. The measure is therefore also intended to encourage households to use energy more efficiently.
How is the maximum rate for gas and electricity determined?
The government has made an estimate of the market rates for next year. The government suspects that the average rates next year will be 3 euros per cubic meter of gas and 0.90 euros per kilowatt hour of electricity. Because households generally spend more on gas than on electricity, the government wanted to significantly reduce the costs of gas. That is why the tariff for gas has been reduced by 50 percent, while the electricity tariff is only 22 percent lower.
I am over the maximum usage for medical reasons. Will an exception be made for me?
It doesn’t seem like that. In answers to questions from the House of Representatives, Prime Minister Mark Rutte says that people in this situation can make use of the aforementioned measures, such as the energy surcharge and higher benefits. He also mentions applying for special assistance as an option. There is no mention of an exception for high consumption for medical reasons.
I have a heat pump, what does the price ceiling mean for me?
Anyone who has a heat pump in their home quickly consumes more electricity than the maximum of 2,400 kilowatt hours per year, while gas consumption is minimal. Nevertheless, Rutte seems to hint in the aforementioned letter to parliament that there will be no exception for this group.
For example, he says that the price ceiling is mainly intended for households that need the purchasing power support the most. The Prime Minister also writes that it is plausible that “even with the temporary price ceiling, a (hybrid) heat pump will remain a good investment”, partly because the price ceiling will expire at the end of next year.
Anyone who is connected to district heating (heating network) does not seem to have to count on an exception. According to Rutte, the energy consumption in that case deviates strongly from the average consumption.