Today the Supreme Court ruled in a long-running conflict between residents in Eindhoven and energy company Ennatuurlijk about the annual conncetion fee. The Supreme Court has confirmed that Ennatuurlijk is not allowed to charge these costs.
The verdict applies to three residents from Meerhoven who started a trial process in 2012 on the initiative and under supervision of Municipal Heating Foundation Eindhoven (Stichting Stadsverwarming Eindhoven). The costs that have already been charged must be reimbursed to the residents. Ennatuurlijk may also no longer charge these costs in the future. Because of the precedent effect, the verdict is of great importance for other residents who are confronted with the same costs.
Ennatuurijk charges an (interest-bearing and also indexed) ‘connection fee’ to most households with municipal heating for 30 years. This involves an amount of approximately € 5,000 per household (both homeowners and tenants). This is in addition to the one-off connection costs that residents have already paid to physically connect their home to the heating network and on top of the annual standing rate (i.e. the costs to maintain the connection). Households who built their house themselves have paid the one-off connection fee directly to (the legal predecessor of) Ennatuurlijk. For so-called ‘project build’ homes these costs were included in the purchase price of the house.
Two years ago the court in Den Bosch had already ruled that Ennatuurlijk incorrectly charges the annual connection fee. Ennatuurlijk did not agree with this and went to the Supreme Court in cassation in July 2017. Today the Supreme Court has determined that the court’s decision will be maintained. The ruling of the court is hereby irrevocable. In this case Ennatuurlijk can no longer appeal.
Municipal Heating Foundation Eindhoven includes the judgments of the court and the Supreme Court in the collective procedure regarding the annual connection fee. This procedure is expected to start in January 2019. Other wrongdoings related to municipal heating are being addressed in follow-up procedures. These procedures are all part of the collective action of the foundation.