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 consulting with relevant stakeholders to work out the details of the legislation required 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 2024. Alliander endorses the objective of the Energy Act, which is to create an integrated and future-proof legislative framework for the energy system. An area that requires attention is how the Energy Act can be quickly amended in response to the rapidly changing challenge: the act must take account of the current situation and tightened European regulations, while also anticipating the flexible and digital energy system of 2030. 

The new Energy Act sets out a solid framework, but the success of the energy transition depends on further detailing in key areas. An integrated energy system that incorporates new energy carriers such as hydrogen, and includes flexible solutions, is of great social importance, however the law does not yet provide for this adequately. In its consultation response, Netbeheer Nederland therefore urges rapid elaboration of secondary legislation, even before the bill is presented to parliament. Developments continue to emerge at lightning speed and 2030, although a few years away, is actually ‘tomorrow’ in terms of energy infrastructure construction. Furthermore, there is a pressing need for ‘rules of play’ to facilitate the process of drawing up socially responsible plans in conjunction with public authorities and other local players.

Changes to connection time rules

The ACM wishes to give large-volume and small-volume consumers maximum clarity about when they will be connected to the electricity network. However, Liander is obliged to find a balance in the work package in the face of the exponentially increasing demand for network capacity and the restrictions caused by limited labour capacity and space. The proposal by the regulator to introduce reasonable connection times for our customers primarily emphasises connecting all customers within a reasonable period of time. This limits the options for network expansions, which are urgently required in the coming years. The network operators are working together with all supply chain partners to find long-term solutions. By implementing major expansions now, we can ensure that connections can be realised more easily in the future. We are continually optimising work processes, and by working closely with stakeholders and supply chain partners, we can ensure a targeted response to future demand.

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. In the context of the proposed Collective Heating Supply Act, which will be presented to the Dutch parliament in late 2023, the government is investigating the possibility of bringing most of the district heating networks into public ownership. To implement this, a number of crucial conditions must be met first, including financing, sufficient labour capacity and appropriate legislation and regulations, to allow network companies to make a significant contribution to the heating transition.

Heating Transition (municipal instruments) Act

The proposed Heating Transition (Municipal Instruments) Act was published for consultation in early 2022 and will be presented to the Dutch parliament in early 2023. The objective of the 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 is expected to come into force on 1 January 2024.

ACM enforcement waiver order for hydrogen project in Lochem

As hydrogen is expected to play an important role in the sustainable energy supply of the future, the network operators wish to gain experience with hydrogen distribution. However, there is currently no legislative framework governing the hydrogen-related activities of network operators. In anticipation of the required legislative amendments, the ACM published the Temporary Framework for Hydrogen Pilots in 2022. Based on this framework, the ACM issued an enforcement waiver order on 20 October 2022 that permits Liander to distribute hydrogen to households in Lochem.

Environment & Planning Act

The minister for Housing and Spatial Planning wants the Environment & Planning Act to come into force on 1 January 2024. Alliander intends to comply with the Environment & Planning Act and the underlying decrees and regulations and to actively work with the authorities to deploy instruments under the new environment and planning legal system that directly help us fulfil our task. We are actively working to ensure compliance with the Digital System for the Environment & Planning Act.

Flexibility and tariffs

Alliander is working with the sector on various initiatives to use available network capacity as efficiently as possible at times when more transmission capacity is available. This must be supported by legislation and regulations. Proposals for rule changes were therefore submitted in 2022 that would allow alternative (non-firm) transmission rights to be offered to ensure that customers can no longer claim the right to contracted but unused transmission capacity (‘use it or lose it’). The network operators have collectively proposed a framework for the use of large batteries to reduce network congestion. This deployment framework will be worked out in greater detail in the coming period in consultation with the relevant stakeholders.

National Network Congestion Action Programme

In 2022, Alliander worked with the other network companies, public authorities and market parties on a National Network Congestion Action Programme. The programme was presented to the Minister for Climate and Energy Policy at the end of the year. It contains three priorities: accelerated expansion of the network, greater focus on making better use of the network and increasing the flexible capacity.
The actions will be developed further under the leadership of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy in 2023. 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?