Thomas Henden has heating in his apartment south of Oslo. District heating comes from the municipally owned Fortum Varme.
The bill comes from a company called Eviny Termo, a Bergen-based company that was called BKK Varme until fall 2021. But the fact that it’s not the supplier that sends the bill to customers isn’t the most confusing thing with this bill for area heating.
Central heating bills must be compensated for electrical subsidies in the same way as for electricity. But it is not possible to consider the bill how this is done.
– We are witnessing a massive increase in prices without any comprehensible specifications for what we consume. There are complex pricing models that are almost impossible to understand. Henden says consumers are upset on all fronts.
– We have no control
In the bill, the consumption is divided into the so-called “step”, rather than kWh. There is no information about energy subsidies and how this can be calculated in the bill basis.
The bar graph indicating the consumption per day shows the consumption of 0.1-0.3 kWh of energy per day, which gives approx. 6-9 kilowatt-hours in total within a month.
– There are errors in the bar graphs, the correct consumption is not mentioned, the modification service can not do anything, I asked them about it. Even with an error of a factor of 10, that is, daily consumption of 1-3 kWh, the graph is meaningless, because it is too small for both the size of the apartment and the size of the bill.
Hand is handed to the practice.
We have no control over our access to the energy we paid for. Before, it was said that district heating should have a price 10 percent lower than electricity overall. At Fortum this fall, it was 2 percent lower. Now it’s five percent, says Thomas Henden.
District heating is billed separately from overhead and electricity. The way the system is implemented varies, but at the Henden Housing Association there are individual water meters on the hot water meter for each apartment.
– They measure this in the number of cubic meters of water drained to use pure hot water, and track additional consumption 4 degrees above average. But we do not have access to technical data – unlike normal energy consumption which is measured in kWh. Here, the data is transmitted electronically continuously, and the whole thing is completely encrypted.
Zero billing requirement
The Energy Code does not regulate billing design requirements from central heating companies.
This is said Kjell Ron Ferlo, Senior Advisor to NVE (Norwegian Directorate of Water Resources and Energy), responsible for managing the electricity subsidy scheme.
RME stands for Energy Regulatory Authority, and it’s the department in the NVE that has this mission.
– We regulate electricity and grid rent billing requirements, but not district heating, Ferrlow says.
In other words, district heating companies can tailor the bill to their liking – and this has led to confusion and bewilderment for many district heating customers who have been in contact with Nettavisen. The only requirement from the authorities is that district heating be below the market price (spot price) of electricity.
– Not us
– Yes, I understand that this invoice is not entirely easy for the customer to identify, says Trolls Gemtland, Director of Communications at Fortum Varme.
Fortum Varme in Oslo explains that even if they provide heating and the housing association bill, the housing association can make an agreement with another player that distributes energy around the apartments in the housing association.
Our customer relationship with the Housing Association. Our measuring point is a condominium, and then they have an in-house solution with a distribution switch.
In this case, this is Eviny Termo, formerly BKK Varme (Bergen Kommunale Kraftlag), which turns out to be another municipal company that changed its name.
But the electricity subsidy has been deducted from the housing association’s bill, Gemtland confirms at Fortum Farm. He does not know the term “step” and understands that it can be difficult to understand the law.
– But we are required to price district heating below the spot price of electricity, and we have determined that our district heating will always be five percent below the spot price.
He understands that the bill is difficult
Although Fortum is the supplier for area heating, the bill comes from another company. This is part of the reason for the complexity of the bill.
Øystein Haaland is CEO of Eviny Termo. He asserts that they have an agreement with the relevant housing association in Oslo.
– The housing association is the one who bears the legal responsibility here. What we offer is the installation of energy meters that allow to measure consumption in each apartment separately. This is how the share of the apartment in the total bill is indicated. Then we receive measurement data, send a request for payment for the apartment’s share of the community cost.
Bergen’s role is only to enable this distribution, but Fortum and the housing association are parties to the agreement, Halland says.
It is also for this reason that energy subsidies cannot be understood or explained in apartment consumption bills.
– But what does the move mean? How should customers understand this invoice?
– I don’t know actually – I can understand the bill would be hard to fathom, says Haaland.
Haaland hires a technician at Evene to call and explain. It turns out that the “step” is the unit of measurement of consumption in each individual radiator, measured in a unit welded to each individual radiator calculated from a master meter. So the price will vary with the size of the coolant. But the technician at Evenni can’t say anything about the relationship between “step” and kilowatt-hours, and agrees that the whole thing is very complicated.
Thomas Henden does not believe that the explanations provided by Fortum and Eviny help consumers more:
– I do not understand that not all energy customers have the right to know how much energy they are billed for, and with district heating it seems as if you are trying to hide this from the consumer. This is evidenced by the fact that we do not know how much is charged for the so-called power support.
Henden thinks the housing association’s involvement is irrelevant:
– The invoice must be selected correctly for the individual customer, quite simply! And I think more people would end up with more livable bills, if they had access to information that was more clear when it came to energy consumption, whether it was electricity or area heating, Henden says.
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