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Consumers: Several suppliers should take advantage of the gas price brake

Consumers: Several suppliers should take advantage of the gas price brake
Consumers: Several suppliers should take advantage of the gas price brake

Several gas suppliers are said to have exploited the rules of the price brake to get higher compensation payments from the state. The Cartel Office has initiated an examination of at least ten companies.

Several gas suppliers are suspected of having set unjustifiably high end customer prices in connection with the gas price brakes. The Bundeskartellamt reported on Monday that a double-digit number of suppliers had “possibly submitted excessive reimbursement requests under the price brake laws”.

“We have indications that the prices for end customers could not be objectively justified and are in the process of bringing light into the darkness,” said Andreas Mundt, President of the Authority. The first test procedures on the basis of the energy price brake laws have been initiated. “We have the task of protecting the state from exploitation.” Further procedures for district heating and electricity are pending. The Cartel Office did not name an order of magnitude for these areas.

BDEW welcomes the review

The Federal Association of Energy and Water Management (BDEW) welcomed the review. “It must not be the case that individual companies take advantage of the crisis,” explained general manager Kerstin Andreae. At the same time, she expressed her conviction that “the vast majority” of the more than 1,000 gas suppliers in Germany had implemented the highly complex gas price brake “absolutely correctly”. Price increases alone are not an indication of abuse, says Andreae. The high wholesale prices of the past year only had a delayed effect on end customer prices. “Energy suppliers must be able to pass these sharply increased procurement costs on to their customers.”

The price brakes that have been in effect since the beginning of the year are intended to relieve consumers. The price capped at 12 cents for natural gas applies to 80 percent of the forecast annual consumption. In order to promote energy saving, the contracted price must be paid for the remainder. The cap is 40 cents per kilowatt hour for electricity and 9.5 cents per kilowatt hour for district heating. The difference between the cap and the contract price is reimbursed by the state – and thus the taxpayer – to the utility companies.

Illegal compensation payments back to the state

As the Cartel Office further reported, the initiated proceedings were preceded by an analysis of all application and notification data in several thousand applications. Prices, delivery quantities, relief amounts and customer numbers emerged from them. “As part of the examination procedure, the Bundeskartellamt will first systematically and data-based question the companies identified as conspicuous.”

If violations are found, unlawfully obtained compensation payments would have to be repaid. “The imposition of fines is also possible.”

The price brake laws prohibit abuse of the relief rules. This is to prevent energy suppliers from receiving a higher compensation payment due to an increase in end customer prices, although there is no reason for this due to increased costs.

Source: Stern

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