15% Of Germans Threatened By Fuel Poverty

  • Date: 30/04/12

Electricity prices are rising in Germany – and citizen with a low-income are suffering particularly. They are at risk of fuel poverty. 10 to 15 percent of Germans are now struggling to pay their energy bills. 600,000 households have the electricity turned off every year

Rising energy costs are troubling more and more consumers.”Previously, fuel poverty was a marginal phenomenon, but now it has become an everyday issue for many,” CEO of the Consumer Association North Rhine-Westphalia, Klaus Mueller, told the “Welt am Sonntag”. According to Mueller, 10 to 15 percent of Germans are now struggling to pay their energy bills. According to a survey of energy suppliers by the consumer protection organisation, approximately 600,000 households have the electricity turned off every year because of outstanding bills.

The President of the Social Association VdK, Ulrike Mascher, criticized the German government for its failure to consider “the social dimension of the green energy transition”. For those on low incomes, the rising cost of electricity would hit “through fully.”

The upward trend in electricity prices has continued unabated in the first half of 2012. According to recent information by the consumer portal TopTarif, since January about 420 energy suppliers have increased their prices by an average of 3.5 percent. Depending on household size, this means an additional cost of 20 to 60 Euros; in some regions even more than 150 Euros. In May and June, at 30 suppliers the price of electricity will get more expensive by 4.9 percent.

But in the years before the price of electricity knew only one direction: up.

In 2005, the electricity price averaged 18.2 per cent per kilowatt-hour. Today the price is about 26 cents depending on the provider. A four-person household with a consumption of 4,000 kilowatt hours could currently incur more than 1000 € per year in electricity costs. Therefore it is worthwhile to compare and make the most of usually non-bureaucratic possibility to change providers.

Responsible for the increase is not primarily the promotion of renewable energies, as is often claimed. This levy, which is paid via the electricity price, has risen mostly by a significantly lesser degree than the electricity price in the past twelve years, – but in 2010 the levy jumped from 2 to about 3.5 cents. In this year, it went up to almost 3.6 cents per kilowatt hour.

Almost half of the electricity price is attributable to state taxes: VAT, green energy levies, concession fees and electricity taxes. In spite of the phase-out for eight nuclear power plants, the costs for electricity procurement have dropped; thus the energy transition cannot be used as an argument for price increases. The current increases are primarily due to the sharply increased costs for network use and new exemptions, for example in the promotion of green electricity and for companies with high electricity consumption.

Full story (in German)