Friday, October 20, 2006

If you license them they will not come...

...if they aren't going to be paid:

BRUSSELS - Liberalisation of the energy market in Brussels is getting off to a surprisingly slow start as Electrabel's competitors hold back.

After a bill was passed, which liberalised the energy market in Wallonia and Brussels, many expected a fierce fight between energy suppliers but privatization is taking a different turn in Brussels. According to Le Soir's sources only three of the five newly licensed energy suppliers will try their luck in Brussels.

Electrabel, Brussels's leading energy supplier - the only one until 2007, can rest easy. Its newly licensed competitors do not seem anxious to enter Brussels' liberalised energy market. Belgian newspaper Le Soir reports that Essent, Luminus and Nuon will sell neither natural gas nor electricity in Brussels.

Might there be a reason?

....As Alexander Dewulf, the CEO of the Belgium branch of Dutch multinational Nuon, says "we will not be present in Brussels because of risks relating to unpaid bills."

The new law includes an article that is unacceptable in the eyes of the suppliers.

In Brussels suppliers will be obliged to provide electricity and gas to customers for a period of three months even if the customer in question fails to pay their bills.

Evelyne Huytebroeck, Minister of Energy and author of the new law says that she is determined to protect the rights of the poorest consumers.

Also, licensed suppliers may be liable and have to pay fines should they refuse to supply energy.

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