SSH tenants in De Uithof start petition

Electricity and gas five times more expensive but students get no compensation

Cambridgelaan in De Uithof
SSH complex on Cambridgelaan avenue, in the Utrecht Science Park. Photo: DUB's archive

The petition is titled "The entire country is getting an electricity and gas compensation, except for the Utrecht Science Park" has been signed 400 times in just two days’ time. One of the signers writes: “It is unfair that we are treated unequally and have to pay more than the rest of the Netherlands.”

“We are unlucky”, the initiators write. “Together with hundreds of thousands of other Dutch people, we have district heating and therefore no energy contract of our own. As a result, we're not contemplated by the benefit.”

Student housing provider SSH is responsible for the energy contracts. There is usually a single meter in each building or flat, meaning student complexes are far above the average annual consumption of a two-person household. Therefore, they are above the price cap established by the government.

The SSH buildings in the Utrecht Science Park are connected to UU's gas-powered heating network. Since UU's energy contract is ending this year, the residents will face the high prices of the current market.

In a letter sent to tenants on Monday, SSH announces that they will pay substantially more for energy costs in 2023. “The first thing you think is: ‘Shit, how are you going to cough up an extra 100 euros a month?'”, says Jelmer Witteveen, one of the initiators of the petition. He will have to pay 125 euros for gas and water for a 17 square-metre room.

Energy benefit
Students are not eligible for the compensation announced for people with a low income. “That's because it only applies to households with their own energy contract”, explains Jelmer, who doesn't know whether students are eligible for an energy allowance by applying for a special file with the municipality of Utrecht.

“With this petition, we're aiming to send a signal to the municipality of Utrecht: ''What about us? Do something and help us.” Jelmer says. “We're growing despondent.”