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From autumn, gas customers will have to pay an extra surcharge – hundreds of euros a year


In order to save Uniper and Co., all end customers should pay a levy from October. The DIW President expects heating costs to triple, consumer advocates are calling for further relief.

Enlarge image

Cooking with a gas stove is becoming more expensive: relief for low earners is being called for

Photo: Patrick Pleul / dpa

The federal government saves the gas trader Uniper from bankruptcy, and that will be expensive.

According to Economics Minister Robert Habeck, there is a risk of annual costs of several hundred euros per household - a planned surcharge for all end consumers is expected to apply from October 1st.

"We expect that it will be between 1.5 and five cents per kilowatt hour," says the Green politician.

If the average consumption is 20,000 kilowatt hours of gas per year, it is in the middle three-digit euro range - with five cents adding up to 1000 euros in this example.

According to Habeck, one does not know exactly how high the gas procurement costs will be in November and December.

"But the bitter news is: it's definitely a few hundred euros per household."

The exact amount of the levy should be published on the Internet by the middle or end of August, according to circles in the Federal Ministry of Economics.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz had announced an increase in gas prices by two cents per kilowatt hour last week.

The SPD politician spoke of additional annual costs of 200 or 300 euros for a family of four.

With extremely rising import prices, it could also be up to 1000 euros.

The comparison portal Check24 calculated additional costs of 476 euros for an annual consumption of 20,000 kilowatt hours and a two-cent surcharge;

this also includes VAT.

The surcharge will apply for a year and a half, i.e. until the end of March 2024.

About half of all apartments in Germany are heated with gas.

Economic researchers expect heating costs to triple

The background is that importers like Uniper have to buy the failed deliveries to Russia at short notice and at high cost on the market.

Due to the existing contracts with customers, however, they are not yet allowed to pass on these additional costs.

This has put Uniper in particular in existential difficulties.

The state has therefore put together an aid package worth billions and is getting involved with 30 percent.

However, this cannot protect against the daily losses in the long term.

Hence the levy.

gas contingency plan

ExpandBackground pane

The gas emergency plan is based on an EU regulation from 2017 that defines measures to secure the gas supply in the event of a crisis.

It provides for three escalation levels: the early warning level, the alert level and the emergency level.

Expand areaEarly warning level


early warning

level can be declared when there are concrete, serious and reliable indications of a possible event that is likely to lead to a significant deterioration in the gas supply situation.

It was

activated by the Federal Ministry of Economics on

March 30, 2022 .

The Russian government had previously threatened to stop gas supplies to Europe if the raw material was not paid for in rubles in the future.

Expand Alert Level area


alert level indicates

a disruption in the gas supply or an exceptionally high demand for gas that leads to a significant deterioration in the gas supply situation.

However, the market is still able to cope with this disruption or high demand on its own.

Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) has the alarm level on

June 24, 2022

announced after the Russian pipeline monopoly Gazprom cut the flow of gas through the particularly important Baltic Sea pipeline Nord Stream 1 by 60 percent.

In concrete terms, the alert level means that energy suppliers and regional network operators can try to shed loads - for example, no longer supply those customers who have agreed so-called switch-off clauses in their contracts.

These customers purchase gas at lower prices, but have agreed not to receive supplies in the event of bottlenecks.

The law also stipulates that energy suppliers can pass on their increased purchasing costs to customers at this stage – despite existing price-fixing clauses.

However, the Federal Network Agency must first have identified a significant reduction in gas imports to Germany.

Expand areaEmergency level


emergency level

is not activated yet.

It is proclaimed when market mechanisms are no longer sufficient to guarantee supply and the state has to intervene.

In this case, the Federal Network Agency would decide which companies would still get gas and which would have to be rationed or even shut down.

However, certain areas are specially protected by law and will continue to be supplied with gas until the very end.

This includes private households, but also hospitals, educational institutions and public administration.

90 percent of the extra costs of the importers can be passed on - with an equal amount per kilowatt hour for all customers, regardless of where they have their contract.

In a third step, relief for needy households is planned, for example through a housing benefit reform.

Many can no longer cope with the rise in prices and the levy.

The importers still have to bear their own costs until the end of September.

Both companies and private households have to pay the surcharge.

It comes on top of the normal price increases that are gradually taking hold.

In view of the tense situation on the gas market, the surcharge is necessary in order to maintain the gas supply in the coming winter.

"Without them, gas supply companies would be at risk throughout the supply chain," the ministry said.

The levy should be the same for all suppliers.

This means that the burden is distributed fairly across many shoulders.

In view of the planned allocation, the President of the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW), Marcel Fratzscher, expects heating costs to at least triple.

At the same time, the economist warned of social upheaval if further relief were not forthcoming: "Passing on the real costs to customers must be accompanied by a third relief package for people with middle and low incomes - otherwise this passing on would lead to a social catastrophe," says Fratzscher.

Nevertheless, he considers the planned allocation to be a necessary step.

"No one in Germany can lower the cost of importing gas and other energy sources." Passing on the actual costs to all customers is right, "so that companies and citizens in particular can make urgently needed savings wherever possible. « According to Fratzscher, it will only be possible to get through the winter in Germany and Europe without shortages of gas and energy with »big savings«.

Demand: 100 euros extra in social assistance

Consumer protection boss Ramona Pop is already pushing for new aid packages from the traffic light coalition because of the impending gas crisis.

"The federal government should stop arguing and instead put together new aid packages," says Pop, who has headed the Federal Association of Consumer Centers (vzbv) since the beginning of July, the "Funke Mediengruppe".

The Federal Chancellor announced that the higher gas prices would be passed on to consumers from September or October, but only held out the prospect of possible help for this for next year - and previous help such as the 9-euro ticket expired in the autumn, Pop complained.

"There's a big gap in justice, that's not how it works." Discussions in which jobs were played off against cold apartments are "highly dangerous," she warned - and called for solidarity when it came to saving energy.

DIW boss Fratzscher called on the federal government to immediately increase social benefits by 100 euros per person per month and to pay a similar sum to all households with an annual income of less than 40,000 euros by the end of 2023.

"In addition, a gas price cap should be set for 80 percent of the basic consumption of households with low and middle incomes and any further consumption should be charged at full cost," he told the "Rheinische Post".

»Do not repeat the mistakes of the first relief packages«

"The federal government must absolutely avoid the mistakes of the first two relief packages and not implement inefficient measures again that benefit privileged people with higher incomes - such as the tank discount," he also said.

The federal government should also refrain from lowering income tax, as this largely benefits high earners and people with low incomes hardly benefit from it.

The details of the new surcharge are to be regulated in a legal ordinance based on the Energy Security Act.

It is planned that the regulation will be passed by the cabinet shortly.

The reimbursements for the importers are to be organized by the so-called market area manager Trading Hub Europe.

The company is responsible for organizing the German gas market.

The importers are obliged to include their additional costs exactly.

The additional costs are then passed on to the end customers via the suppliers.


Source: spiegel

All business articles on 2022-07-28

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