In reply to Natural Gas Prices and The Energy Market by Wouter Groeneveld

Well, yes, in the same predicament. Here in NL the energy prices usually are set two times each year (January and July), so our energy prices hadn’t changed yet until this month. That delayed the impact of the suddenly high wholesale prices of gas (and by extension electricity price as it is coupled to the gas price here). Our monthly advance rose by a third. A handful of smaller energy sellers went bust, but I never trusted them anyway. They’re all resellers betting on the price development in the wholesale market, which is something that can only go wrong over time. Price fighters lack resilience by virtue of their business model. This as the upside ends up in their profits, and the downside has a hard boundary where it starts disrupting deliveries. A few years ago we opted for a provider that is also a producer.

It seems that there’s a bit of a perfect storm. Stopping the exploitation of Groningen gas fields, the French nuclear energy production low due to repairs, German coal plants going offline last month, and Russia’s gas deliveries via Ukrainian pipelines stalling seemingly to pressure the speedy inauguration of the Nord Stream 2. Plus, and that is a strategic failure, the national strategic gas reserves not having been replenished and now at the lowest levels in years. The issue is a system level one, and you can hardly solve it at the household level. Also because the energy prices drive inflation in the cost of everything else you use and buy. Even if we had the money ready to spend to do something at home, or even if builders would be available to do the work, it would still only ever be a partial solution. So we’re riding the price hikes out this winter. A number of US tankers are on their way bringing gas to these shores, having changed course from their original Asian destinations, and having an immediate price impact (should war come to Ukraine, it would become a strategic US effort, not just a market movement).

One thing we did do is put the thermostat at a 2 degree lower night temperature, and 1 degree lower temperature during the day. That already makes a significant difference in our gas usage. Thus far temperatures have been relatively mild as well, so our usage is well below last year’s at this moment.

Anyone in the same predicament? Also just coughing up or building a plan of action? Let me know!

Wouter Groeneveld

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