Eneco’s roots go back to the middle of the nineteenth century. The company we now know as Eneco had a history of joint ventures and mergers before emerging in its current form in 1995. Being an energy generating company, we are at the heart of society and have always had close ties with the government. In fact, our shares are still owned by 61 Dutch municipalities.
Eneco’s history gives it a fundamental place in the history of energy supply in the Netherlands. Safe transmission and provision of energy, use of state-of-the-art technology, a modern, reliable network. For many decades Eneco has put a lot of effort in fulfilling these tasks.
View the Historical timeline
1800 The earliest forms of energy supply
The history of energy supplies in the Netherlands stretches back to the mid-19th century, when the industrial production of coal gas began. The gas was produced by heating coal in ovens, and was used for street lighting and lighting homes.
The gasworks were privately owned, and because of their limited capacity the price of gas was high. Only the well-off could afford gas lighting, and later heating. The less wealthy – the vast majority – had to rely on alternatives such as burning wood.
1850 Affordable energy for everyone
Quite soon after the gasworks were set up, local municipalities began to involve themselves in their operations.
The gas producers became utility companies. The process started by the municipalities ultimately led to everyone being able to use gas at affordable prices.
1880 On the way to energy companies
Around 1880, not long after the start of gas production, another form of energy arrived on the scene: electricity. The first city in the Netherlands to experiment with electric power was Rotterdam.
The first power station was built in the village of Kinderdijk in 1886. The electricity was delivered to customers via a network. It was a private initiative, but soon these activities were also transferred to the municipality. Slowly the production and distribution of gas and electricity were integrated in single businesses, and true ‘energy companies’ emerged.
1930 Everyone under the shower, and advertisements for gas
At night the demand for electricity was considerably lower than during the day. To spread out the production and consumption more, ‘night rate electricity’ was introduced at a discount price.
The use of boilers and geysers was increasingly promoted, and you could even hire the appliances from the municipal energy company. More and more people could take a shower (in their own homes), and that was precisely what the policy-makers intended. The Netherlands would become a little more hygienic as a result!
Gas companies were already making advertisements aimed at increasing gas sales in the 1930’s. Cinema advertising was very common in those years.
1945 District heating for Rotterdam
The Second World War was a turbulent period for the Netherlands. Everything was in short supply. The energy companies, like their counterparts in other sectors, had to ration their resources. Despite the scarcity, local authorities managed to keep up the power supply, more or less. Rotterdam was particularly badly hit; the city’s heart was razed to the ground. Reconstruction work started with the laying of thick-walled pipes for district heating.
It must be said that the plans for district heating had been made before the outbreak of war; the plans entailed using excess heat from power stations to heat various districts. Rotterdam was not even the first local authority in the Netherlands to utilize district heating. Utrecht was the first, having started in the nineteen twenties.
1950 Working together on greater efficiency
After the Second World War a new era dawned, also for the energy companies. The initiative to link power stations together had already been taken a few years earlier, in South Holland. Rotterdam had its own power station, as did Dordrecht, Gouda, Leiden and several other cities in the region. The first high-voltage power lines, both above and below ground, appeared around this time.
1960 Gasworks no longer needed
The 1960’s saw the start of a real revolution when large quantities of natural gas were discovered in Slochteren, Groningen. This eventually made the gasworks, where gas was still being distilled from coal, redundant. After all, natural gas came straight out of the ground.
But before this source of gas could be used, an enormous conversion operation was needed. The consumers’ gas heaters and cookers were suitable for ‘town gas’, but not for natural gas. Parts of the gas distribution network also had to be modernised.
1995 The foundation of Eneco
The developments in the energy sector were not only concerned with raw materials, extraction and production processes; a lot was also happening on the organisational level. Gas and electricity companies increasingly worked together to achieve greater efficiency.
The first mergers took place in the course of the 1980’s. The ‘new’ energy companies were no longer (exclusively) in the hands of municipalities. Municipal energy companies were legally prohibited from merging, but the municipalities retained their involvement in the companies as shareholders.
By this time the Rotterdam, The Hague and Dordrecht energy companies had been created through mergers, and in 1995 they joined together to form a new organisation: Eneco. The name stood for “ENErgy and COmmunications”, because two of the merger partners were also involved in cable operations. At that time Eneco was the biggest energy company in the Netherlands, with 1 million customers.
2000 Towards ENECO Energy
In July 2000, Eneco merged with six regional energy companies, and the combined companies were named ENECO Energy. The name made it immediately clear what the company did for its customers: supplying energy. The cable activities were taken over by other companies. Two other energy companies were added to Eneco through a takeover. The Utrecht energy company REMU was bought and integrated into Eneco in 2003.
2008 Eneco – the most future-oriented energy company
In 2008, Eneco introduced its sustainability strategy, with continuity of energy as its aim and increased sustainability as the only realistic and profitable way forward. Visually, the strategy was supported by a new logo and a new visual identity.
In 2008, the production/trade/supply, network management and infrastructure operations were assigned to separate companies, each with its own name and visual identity. Through this reorganisation Stedin (formerly Eneco Network Management) and Joulz (formerly Eneco Infra) were created as core companies.
2010 Strengthening the sustainability strategy
The takeover of parts of Econcern in 2009 meant a strengthening of Eneco’s sustainability strategy, with a substantial expansion of its international wind, solar energy and biomass operations.
Eneco became a major sustainable electricity supplier in Belgium. Thanks to its focus on local production of sustainable energy, it has succeeded in growing into a solid and fast-growing supplier: a top-5 player in the Belgian business market.
And Eneco was also achieving its ambitions in the field of sustainable energy production in Germany, France and the UK, as well as being active worldwide in the trade in (sustainable) energy products and CO2 emission rights.
2011 Green power for all retail customers
Since 1 January 2011, Eneco has supplied all its private and SME customers with green power. To achieve this, Eneco only buys in green power for these customers, or generates this green energy itself. This doubled the number of Eneco’s green power customers at one stroke.
2011 Eneco acquires Oxxio
In 2011, Eneco acquired Oxxio from the British company Centrica, which meant an expansion of its sustainable supply portfolio by over 426,000 customers, so confirming Eneco’s position as one of the leading Dutch energy suppliers, with around 2.1 million customers.
Oxxio has been retained as an independent brand. Its customers can continue to rely on innovative solutions such as smart meters and competitive prices for sustainable electricity and gas.
2011 Partnership with the WWF
On 1 November 2011, Eneco and the WWF went into partnership to promote the increased sustainability of our energy supplies. Eneco is the first energy company in the world to be declared a Climate Saver by the WWF. In the international Climate Savers Programme, companies make agreements with the WWF on their own CO2 reductions and the use and production of clean energy.
But the partnership between Eneco and the WWF involves more than just the Climate Savers Programme. For example, Eneco supports the WWF’s Borneo Project, which is aimed at protecting the orang-utan. The two organisations are also jointly developing a concept for the city of the future. This has led to a pilot scheme in which a neighbourhood or town will be selected to have its energy supplies made as sustainable as possible.