“Numerous price increases and new contract clauses by the electricity providers are illegal,” said Hubert Zangerl, President of the Tyrolean Chamber of Labour, on Monday at a press conference in Innsbruck. Together with Alexander Schopper, Professor at the University of Innsbruck, he presented a corresponding report.
According to this, price increases are only permissible if and only to the extent that the specific costs of the specific provider have actually increased. Customers would also have to be informed precisely and transparently about the specific circumstances of the price increase before the price increase. If the electricity providers do not give in, they will also want to file a lawsuit if necessary, according to the AK Tirol.
The two named some Tyrolean and Salzburg companies as examples – such as Tiwag and IKB. These would refer to the regulation that has been in force since February 2022, which authorizes electricity suppliers to increase prices for consumers. According to this new legal regulation, increases in the contractually agreed fees for open-ended contracts are only permissible if the price change is in reasonable proportion to the circumstances that represent the cause of the price increase.
“The mere reference of the electricity provider in the clauses to inflation, Ukraine or the electricity price index (ÖSPI) is definitely not enough,” said Schopper. It is also important to show how much electricity comes from “own production and how much is bought in,” says the lawyer. If the in-house production is high, as for example in the summer months at the state-owned energy supplier Tiwag, it could be that the electricity price index is not relevant at all, said Schopper.
Zangerl and Schopper pointed out that the results of the report corresponded to the most recent judgment of the Vienna Commercial Court. As reported, last week the commercial court followed a lawsuit by the Association for Consumer Information (VKI) and, in the first instance, overturned the price increase of the partially state-owned electricity company Verbund from May 2022.
At the weekend, Salzburg’s governor Wilfried Haslauer (VP), who was in the pre-election campaign, caused a stir when he demanded a “transparent and comprehensible explanation of the previous pricing” from the management of Salzburg AG. The chairman of the supervisory board asked the two board members Michael Baminger and Brigitte Bach for a “comprehensive and comprehensible explanation as well as legal justification”. Baminger was with the Upper Austrian Energie AG until the end of the previous year. Leonhard Schitter changed direction at the turn of the year and is now General Manager of Energie AG. Energie AG also holds a stake of around 26 percent in Salzburg AG.
Salzburg AG issued a statement on Monday in response to a query from OÖN: “The Chairman of the Supervisory Board, Governor Wilfried Haslauer, gave Salzburg AG the clear mandate to present and explain the electricity price formation at the upcoming Supervisory Board meeting on March 7th. Both the verdict in the Verbund and the legal opinion of the Chamber of Labor must be taken into account.” The Chamber of Labor has announced that it will present the legal opinion of Salzburg AG. “We currently do not know the exact content and therefore cannot comment on it.” It is clear that price advantages will be passed on to customers as soon as possible.