Thursday night’s plenary session of the House of Representatives gave the green light to the basic energy package. As a result, consumers are entitled to an allowance for gas and electricity in November and December, although in the meantime the government decided to extend the measure until the end of winter. The amounts, 135€ per month for gas and 61€ for electricity, are allocated automatically via the energy bill.
“In order to get the money to people as quickly as possible, we have decided to settle the premium via energy suppliers,” Energy Minister Tine van der Straiten (Groen) said. FEBEG, the union of Belgian electricity and gas companies, is concerned about the time constraints and believes only a minority of consumers will receive a premium as early as November. “It could have happened much faster, after all, we were about five days late due to the second reading requested by the N-VA. But we are convinced that this is realistic timing,” a Van der Straiten spokesperson said.
Mark van den Bosch of the industry association FEBEG says suppliers are now preparing to implement the basic package. “But they can only share their client lists with the government after publishing the legal texts in the Official Gazette.” That could happen next week, although the minister doesn’t want to set a date.
By November 10, suppliers should restore the lists after excluding families who are not eligible for the premium. If all goes smoothly, which is already quite a challenge, it will be just in time to settle the basic package in advance billing for December. “The majority of the invoices submitted from November will have already been issued by that time,” says van den Bosch.
Suppliers can deduct the amount from the advance or final invoice, FEBEG colleague Katharina Ponti explains. “If this bill is less than the energy premium, the supplier can transfer the balance to the customer’s account before January 18.” Consumers who do not receive a premium by mistake can place an order manually, just as with the heating premium of one hundred euros earlier this year.
Test-Achats confirm that suppliers have now submitted advance invoices as of November, as the premium has not been settled. The minister’s spokesperson agrees that “some energy suppliers will be able to get a refund or cut back in November, while others won’t.” Customers will then receive the November and December payments in one go in December. What matters is that people will still receive that amount this winter. Whoever is entitled to the basic package will continue to receive it in 2022. Exactly when that happens depends on the energy suppliers.”