Thousands of families in Flanders go hours, in some cases days, without gas and electricity because they aren’t able to afford to pay for it.
During the winter months, some families suffer from severe cold to avoid paying high bills, according to the Flemish energy regulator Vreg.
When someone can’t pay their bills in the region, they are put in contact with the network operator – it manages, builds, and maintains the distribution network for electricity and/or natural gas.
If there are still payment problems, a digital budget meter, to regulate the flow, is installed, which is where the problem arises for many families, as households have to recharge them themselves using a prepaid function.
According to Vreg figures, these households do not always have the money to recharge to the budget meters to consume electricity and natural gas.
Of the more than 18,000 digital budget meters that have been activated in the region, there were over 9,000 occurrences last year when households did not recharge the meter.
When it comes to natural gas, 37% of households disconnected themselves from the meter occasionally, on average four times, and in one-third of these cases, they had no gas supply for over a day. This happens most often during the coldest months when heatings are being used more.
Meanwhile, around 10% of households with such a meter will have gone without electricity an average of five times in 2020, which is a “remarkably high number,” according to Vreg.
For another 10% of this group, the disconnection to electricity lasted more than a day.
The Brussels Times