In recent years, electricity and gas contracts for individuals have decreased enormously in Brussels. We remember, for example, the withdrawal of Luminus from the Brussels market in 2018. This decision, by the second-largest Belgian supplier, dealt a hard blow to the range of plans on offer in the bilingual territory.
What about in 2020? So which energy suppliers can consumers in the capital still choose? Energyprice.be gives you an overview of the situation.
Only a handful of long-standing suppliers still offer their products and services to Brussels residents. Although there are now only five, they are firmly dedicated to their clientele. Find out about these electricity and gas suppliers who continue to offer competitive plans to residents in the capital, where others have preferred to withdraw.
ENGIE is a supplier that needs no introduction. Leader of the Belgian market, the former Electrabel offers a wide variety of energy contracts to meet everyone’s needs. This range can also be supplemented by many additional solutions, such as a smart thermostat (Boxx). But does the giant of the Belgian energy sector offer the best services at the best prices? It all depends on your consumption profile. A comparison with the other suppliers in the Brussels-Capital Region is essential before deciding.
If there is one supplier that has greatly benefited from Luminus’ withdrawal from the Brussels market, it is Lampiris. Third in terms of market share on the national stage, Lampiris consequently found itself propelled to second place in the Brussels Region.
In addition, the company founded in Liège is now part of the French oil group Total, but it continues to remain committed to its local and environmental values. In addition, it regularly offers promotions on its energy contracts. Even though they are temporary, they are still enticing. However, once terminated, it is advisable for the informed consumer to compare rates again in order to continue to benefit from the best prices.
Mega is as a serious competitor for ENGIE and Lampiris. The young Liège company is on everyone’s lips with its bargain prices and straight-forward services. In addition, its manpower compared to leaders in the Brussels market allows it to be more flexible and responsive. Finally, Mega can also claim to be better rated than its competitors in the Greenpeace ranking. For environmentally conscious consumers, this is an important factor.>> See all Mega offers
If you heat with oil, you might want to choose Octa+ as your electricity supplier in order to reduce your administrative burden. A long-established Belgian family business, Octa + has established itself as a trusted supplier. While it specialises in petroleum products, it is still a fully comprehensive electricity and gas supplier that offers contracts of different durations, at fixed or variable prices. Does that sound good to you? All you have to do is to use a comparison tool to see if its prices are cheaper than the competition!>> See all Octa+ offers
Would you rather be a consumer who plays an active role in the energy transition? Then you could join Energie 2030. This community cooperative provides its customers with 100% green and local electricity, produced by itself. All you have to do to join the cooperative is acquire at least one share. This membership allows you to actually invest in the production of clean energy (wind, hydraulic and solar). It is therefore no surprise that Energie 2030 has obtained the maximum score in the Greenpeace ranking.>> See all Energie 2030 offers
These suppliers all offer favourable contracts. The question must therefore be asked: why are there only five suppliers in Brussels for residential customers, while in Flanders and Wallonia there are two to three times as many? Does Audrey Hepburn’s home town lack charm in the eyes of other players in the energy market? It is not so much a question of preference as a question of profitability. Many suppliers are reluctant to operate in such a risky market and would prefer to stay away.
The first reason that discourages suppliers is related to the customer protection system. In fact, in the Brussels region, electricity and gas suppliers are exposed to significant financial risks in the event of non-payment by a customer. For a supplier, this means it is much more difficult and costly to cut off electricity or gas to a defaulter in the Brussels Region than elsewhere in Belgium.
For starters, the principle of the budget meter does not exist in Brussels. In the event of non-payment by a customer after reminders and formal notice, the only recourse for the supplier is to ask Sibelga, the distribution system operator in Brussels, to install a power limiter (2,300 watts). This means that the supplier must continue to supply the customer, after a power limiter has been fitted, even if they still do not pay their bills. This would not happen with a budget meter, since the customer can only consume the amount of energy they have loaded on their recharge card.
Then, if the supplier wants to terminate the supply, they must always go through a Justice of the Peace – at least twice. The first time deals with the cut and the second with the payment of invoices. In addition, even if the Justice decides in favour of the supplier, the latter may still have to continue supplying the customer, as we will see in the next point.
In the three Regions, where it is possible to prove that a defaulting customer is clearly in the wrong, the distribution system operator (DSO) is authorised to shut down their supply point.
In Wallonia and Flanders, if for one reason or another a supply point cannot be sealed, the DSO then takes over from the initial supplier to ensure the supply of energy. We then say that the customer goes to supplier X, and they are subsequently invoiced at the maximum market price.
In Brussels, however, the concept of supplier X does not exist. The supply point remains the responsibility of the initial supplier, even if the Justice of the Peace has authorised its shutdown. The situation can thus become very costly for the company in charge of supplying this supply point.
Suppliers have denounced measures that minimise the liability of Sibelga, the Brussels DSO. In their sights, they are critical of the lack of the DSO’s obligation in terms of automated social provision, as well as its charge-back system.
For the first point, this means that Sibelga (unlike other DSOs in the country) is not required to guarantee a supply of energy to vulnerable consumers. As a result, many energy-poor households get their energy from suppliers at full price, which increases the risk of non-payment.
Regarding the second point, you should know that in Brussels, it is the supplier and not the distribution system operator that invoices customers for the opening or closing of a supply point. Specifically, Sibelga invoices the operation to the supplier who, in turn, must invoice the customer. In this configuration, the DSO is guaranteed to receive its payment, but this is not necessarily the case for the supplier.
All these reasons have prompted major suppliers such as Eneco or Essent to stay away from the Brussels market. But above all, in 2018, this led to the withdrawal of Luminus, Belgium’s second largest energy supplier.
This event benefited its competitors, but it also brought them major disadvantages. By leaving the European capital, the Belgian subsidiary of EDF left behind many customers in default of payment. They were then allocated to the other suppliers in the Brussels Region. We can easily assume that they were not happy about this.
Following this, the regional regulator, Brugel, expressed its concerns in a report. It fears that the lack of competitiveness in the Brussels residential market will lead to an increase in prices, to the detriment of customers who are already vulnerable. This situation would nullify the benefits that a free market should provide.
With fewer suppliers, comparing plans and availing of promotions when they arise is of utmost importance. Options are certainly more restricted, but it is still very much possible to take advantage of competitive offers. In this case, it is crucial to use an energy comparison tool that always has up-to-date price plans of all suppliers. This is true for energyprice.be, the only price comparison website certified by CREG.
Would you prefer to receive a free energy audit before you decide? Get in touch with our energy advisers (0800 37 369). In just a few minutes, they will calculate your usage and better estimate what your needs are.Respond!