A new software system continues to cause problems for thousands of energy contracts: missing or incorrect final invoices for gas or electricity, late or discontinued advance invoices, supplier changes that run into the hundreds.
The Federal Energy ombudsman estimates that at least 100,000 people are affected in Flanders. New software systems that were rolled out at the end of 2021 are at the root of the misery, VRT reports.
Federal ombudsman Eric Houtman speaks of more than 100,000 stalled contracts in Flanders alone. This may include more than 20,000 problematic files from network operator Fluvius. Fluvius spokesman Björn Verdoodt talks about 15,000 blocked contracts at Fluvius itself and 5,000 at ATRIAS, the new data platform that was rolled out across Belgium in November 2021 to better manage the usage data of every electricity and gas consumer in our country. As early as November 2021, Atrias warned of delays in invoicing and difficult supplier changes: those problems are still there. Federal ombudsman Eric Houtman is not reassured: he fears that the problems will certainly continue until the end of this year. With Fluvius, they sound more optimistic. Since a few months, a task force has been set up with the grid operators, Atrias and the energy suppliers. They must individually address the blocked files in joint consultation.
Atrias started in 2012
The Atrias project started in 2012, but has been in the news several times over the past decade, mainly because of the delay. In 2018, there was a heated debate in the Flemish Parliament about the delay, during which it emerged that the entire project had already cost around 200 to 250 million euros. The then Flemish Minister of energy Bart Tommelein even suggested then to no longer pump money into it. “There is no point in pumping millions into a system that cannot stand the test of the 21st century,” he said. The whole story inspired entrepreneur Lieven Declo to a fiery opinion about the failure of IT projects. “The fact that a project can drag on for 6 years and drive through a sloppy 200 million shows that there was a pertinent lack of stakeholder involvement in the project, not least those who pay the bills,” wrote Declo sharply at the time.