2 September 2002 – New Dutch Energy Minister Herman Heinsbroek has given his backing to complete liberalization of the Dutch energy market on Oct 1, 2003 in a reply to a parliamentary question released earlier this week.

This was the first time that the new minister had indicated that his official position on the timing is to support that of his predecessor in the previous government and the recommendation of the Energy Liberalisation Task Force.

By law, the market does not have to be deregulated until Jan 1, 2004. Given that the energy companies now have the experience of deregulating both the green electricity market and the midsegment under their belts and in the light of the preparatory work done by the Energy Liberalisation Task Force, Heinsbroek said he did not expect any problems from meeting the Oct 1, 2003, target date.

A final decision will be taken only after consideration of two progress reports being carried out by independent consultants under the auspices of industry association, EnergieNed. One is to be carried out this autumn and the other next spring. Heinsbroek said he would also take the views of the regulator, the DTe, into account.

In addition, Heinsbroek says he is not ruling out carrying out a sector-wide audit of his own before taking a final decision. He also took this opportunity to underline that the ability to handle the administrative aspects of switching is a condition of supply licences for electricity distribution companies and that gives him the power to intervene if problems arise.