Changes to the law

Alliander’s activities, and particularly those of Liander, are heavily regulated by legislation and regulations. These rules often predate the energy transition, and there is an urgent need for a legislative framework that will help to realise the transition. Alliander is continuously consulting with relevant stakeholders to ensure that legislation is suitable for the energy transition.

Integrated Energy Act

The current Electricity Act and Gas Act are set to be modernised and merged in the new Energy Act. The act is expected to come into force in 2025. Alliander endorses the objective of the Energy Act, which is to create an integrated and future-proof legislative framework for the energy system. The act will support the energy transition and contribute to better use of the existing network. The subordinate laws and regulations still to be drawn up are crucial for this and will ultimately determine how effective the act will be in practice. Alliander would like their provisions to include that we are allowed to read and use smart meter data to improve our network management. Among other things, this will enable us to determine the order of network upgrades better. We are also calling for more options for cable pooling (several projects that share a single connection) and a statutory basis for energy sharing. This will lead to better utilisation of the networks.

Changes to connection time rules

The ACM has changed the ‘Netcode Elektriciteit’ (Power Grid Code) and added a connection lead time for low-volume consumers. However, some changes are not in line with the exponentially increasing demand for network capacity and the restrictions caused by limited labour capacity and space, so the network operators have appealed this code change. Together with all the supply chain partners, the network operators are also working on a new connection lead time for high-volume consumers, as the European rules state that the statutory 18-week period currently present in the Electricity Act should be stated in the Netcode rather than the law.

A new Heating Act

The expectation is that many houses will be connected to a district heating network in the coming years, as an alternative to heating with natural gas. While we are already working on open district heating networks, this process can only really accelerate once the new Heating Act comes into force. Legislation should be supportive of the accelerated roll-out of district heating networks, while also ensuring that consumers are properly protected. The new Collective Heating Supply Act, which the cabinet submitted to the Dutch Council of State for advice in late 2023, should make this possible. Its stipulations include that more than 50% of a heating company must be owned by public parties. This will allow for more public steering, which contributes to the sustainability and affordability of the heat supplied to households and companies. Over the coming period, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy will specify the underlying regulations, which should be appropriate for ensuring that network companies can actually make a valuable contribution to the heat transition.

Heating Transition (municipal instruments) Act

The Minister for Housing and Spatial Planning and the Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Policy submitted the proposed Heating Transition (Municipal Instruments) Act to the Dutch House of Representatives in late June 2023. The objective of this act is to amend the Gas Act and Environment & Planning Act, and to give municipalities the authority to designate specific districts where a sustainable energy supply will be introduced to replace natural gas (the authority to designate). This implies that the network operator’s existing natural gas transmission obligation and authority in that particular residential district will expire after a certain date. The act makes an affordable district-oriented approach possible with room for a careful process with the residents, where districts collectively switch to a heat supply that differs from natural gas. The parliamentary debate for this proposal is planned for 2024.

Decarbonisation package  

In late 2023, an agreement was reached on the European Decarbonisation Package. This legislative package contains rules about the correct functioning of the European internal market for natural gas, renewable and low-carbon gases and hydrogen. Apart from including key rules to give renewable gases (green gas) more space in the existing natural gas network, these regulations introduce the market organisation for hydrogen transmission. This paves the way for a future regulated role for Alliander in the field of hydrogen distribution. The implementation of these regulations in Dutch legislation will start in 2024.

Phased reduction of statutory feed-in rate

In February 2023, the House of Representatives approved the legislative proposal that manages the reduction of the statutory feed-in rate. The Senate rejected the proposal on 13 February 2024. Liander and the other network operators have voiced their support for the proposal, as solar panels no longer require a financial incentive from the government. Instead, owners of solar panels should be encouraged to use the electricity they generate immediately in their own homes as much as possible to reduce the load on the power grid.

Environment & Planning Act

The Environment & Planning Act came into effect on 1 January 2024. Alliander wants to actively work with public authorities to deploy instruments under the new environment and planning legal system that directly help us to perform more work. We are actively working to ensure compliance with the Digital System for the Environment & Planning Act. 

Flexibility and tariffs

Liander is working on various initiatives to use the available network capacity as efficiently as possible at times when more transmission capacity is available. This must be supported by legislation and regulations. Draft code amendment decisions were published in 2023 that would allow alternative (non-firm) transmission rights to be offered in congested areas to ensure that customers can no longer claim the right to contracted but unused transmission capacity (‘use it or lose it’). Work is also underway to prepare proposals that would allow alternative transmission rights to be offered outside of congested areas as well and would allow groups of high-volume consumers to jointly reduce the load on the power grid by means of a group transmission agreement.

National Network Congestion Action Programme
In 2022, Liander drew up a National Network Congestion Action Programme (LAN) together with the other network companies, public authorities and market parties. The programme contains three priorities: accelerated expansion of the network, greater focus on making better use of the network and increasing flexible capacity. The actions were developed further under the leadership of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy in 2023. In October 2023, outgoing Minister Jetten announced additional measures for tackling network congestion. An additional priority for the low-voltage network was added to the LAN last year. Network operators, public authorities, market parties and knowledge institutions are working on a joint action programme for resolving current and future bottlenecks in the low-voltage network. The network companies and authorities are also working on a programmatic approach to developing the energy system. This approach focuses on aligning the future demand for and supply of energy. On this basis, decisions must be made about the associated energy infrastructure – what must be built where and when?

Social prioritisation

In late February 2023, the ACM announced that it wants to provide scope for network operators in congested areas to prioritise individual projects that help reduce congestion or projects with a social function. On 13 July 2023, the ACM published the draft code amendment decision regarding scope for prioritising transmission requests. The draft decision submitted by the ACM states that network operators may deviate from the ‘first come, first served’ principle based on the prioritisation framework in the draft decision when handling transmission requests.