Stek has successfully represented Eneco in a procedure to annul a binding decision issued by the Energy Disputes Committee regarding the allocation of heating costs in an apartment complex connected to Eneco’s district heating network. The District Court ruled that Eneco’s methodology is in accordance with (the purpose of) the Dutch Heat Act and annulled the binding decision of the Energy Disputes Committee.

In a binding decision issued by the Dutch Energy Disputes Committee (Geschillencommissie Energie, the EDC) on 7 July 2020 (the Binding Decision), the EDC decided that a corrective factor used by Eneco, whereby it adjusts for heat losses through transport pipes by allocating 65% of the total heat consumption of an apartment complex based on the individual heat consumption measured by electronic heat cost allocators (elektronische warmtekostenverdelers, HCAs) of the residents and distributing the remaining 35% of the total heat consumption of the apartment complex proportionally among all consumers (the System Component), is in violation of the Dutch Heat Act (Warmtewet, the DHA).

Eneco disagreed with the EDC’s decision and sought annulment of the Binding Decision before the Central Netherlands District Court (Rechtbank Midden-Nederland, the District Court).

The District Court concurred with Eneco that, due to its content, the Binding Decision is unacceptable according to the standards of reasonableness and fairness, and therefore should be annulled. The District Court considers that the System Component employed by Eneco qualifies as a corrective factor (correctiefactor) within the meaning of article 8a, paragraph 5, of the DHA and is in accordance with the principle of the DHA that the actual heat consumption of an individual consumer should be approached as accurately as possible, also when it concerns collective heat systems.

Although the judgement of the District Court relates to an individual dispute, the judgement is relevant for the entire district heating sector. Eneco’s approach to the allocation of heating costs in buildings with collective energy supply (with a fixed and variable tariff component) is common practice in the sector.

The judgment of the District Court of 28 June 2023 can be read here (in Dutch).