Flanders to postpone electricity peak capacity tariff by one year?

Flanders wants to force a new ‘peak capacity tariff’ to calculate the part of every household’s electricity invoice for grid maintenance and managing by July 1st, 2022. But from several quarters in the energy sector and politics, pressure rises to ask the Flemish energy regulator VREG to postpone this by one year due to soaring prices and technical issues.

The measure is meant to encourage households to spread electricity consumption better and avoid high peaks that could overload the net. For instance, when everybody plugs in his electric car simultaneously in the evening. But, for EV owners, it could become expensive.

Technical and economic hurdles

According to the financial newspaper De Tijd, the Belgian federation of electricity and gas suppliers FEBEG addressed the issue in a letter to the VREG, asking to postpone until July 2023. They argue for both technical and economic reasons.

Technically the suppliers have almost finished preparations but claim not to have enough time to test thoroughly. Especially now that they have to constantly adjust their systems with soaring energy prices and the governments announcing new supporting measures to ease the invoice for households. Their IT departments are subjected to significant stress.

Impact not certain

On the other hand, most households don’t know whether the new capacity tariff will lead to higher or lower invoices. Although the total net tariff only applies to 18% of the overall electricity invoice, compared to 40% just one year before, the full impact of the new tariff with the soaring energy prices isn’t clear yet, FEBEG warns.

The soaring prices for the electricity itself made the actual impact of the capacity tariff shrink to 10% of the net tariff (from 18% in 2021). However, still, it could endanger households that already have difficulties paying their electricity bill today. The number of households asking for an installment plan has risen from 30 to 60% in the last months.

Fluvius, grid manager for the whole of Flanders, joins FEBEG in a separate letter to the VREG, asking to postpone at least until November 1st, 2022. But introducing this just before winter with these high energy prices doesn’t seem a good idea, as several politicians have already indicated.

Challenge for EV owners?

Although the VREG argues that EV owners will benefit from the new capacity tariff, it looks like it’s just the opposite for EVs charged with a high-capacity wallbox at home. Let’s explain.

Today, everybody pays a fixed fee for the grid connection and distribution, calculated on a theoretical 2,5 kW peak consumption. However, with the new digital meters introduced in 2019, the latter can measure peak consumption every 15 minutes or 96 times a day.

For the new ‘capacity tariff’ on the invoice, a yearly average over the highest peak measured per month will be taken into account. For households being cautious not to have all their appliances plugged in at once, this could mean a lower than the currently used threshold of 2,5 Wh and lower costs.

Wallbox up to 22 kW?

But what if you are an EV driver with a wallbox at home capable of peaks up to 11 or 22 kW? It looks that ‘fast charging’ at home will be punished, and slow charging, which is said to be the better way to spare your battery, is the only way to avoid it.

As long as one has a classic meter, the tariff will still be calculated upon a 2,5 kW peak. You can’t refuse the installation of a digital meter unless you own solar panels installed before 2021 and no longer than 15 years ago.

Solar panel owners can refuse until December 2025 to replace their classic meter. The traditional meter can turn backward when solar panels produce more electricity than locally consumed. With the digital meter installed, you will lose that benefit, but you can apply for a less attractive government premium.

 

 

 

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