VConsumer advocates advise reading and writing down the meter readings for electricity and gas these days. That could make sense in order to possibly overpay because of the overturned at the last moment gas surcharge to be able to reclaim, said Udo Sieverding, energy specialist at the consumer center in NRW, the editorial network Germany.
The gas surcharge should actually have been introduced on October 1st, but was met with growing criticism. Only on Thursday, after a lengthy discussion, did the federal government announce that the levy should not come after all. The repeal regulation was formally decided on Friday, and it will only take effect retrospectively next Tuesday.
Criticism by Merz and Fuest
Almost all gas suppliers had already made corresponding price adjustments for October. Consumer advocate Sieverding recommends paying excessive deductions first. The entrepreneurs assured that the adjustment would be made quickly and that any excess payments would be settled with the annual statement at the latest.
The actions of the federal government with a view to the planned gas price brake are meanwhile causing criticism from the CDU leader Friedrich Merz and Ifo President Clemens Fuest. Merz accused the government of acting too late. Fuest criticized the fact that large sums were promised, although the gas price brake project was still very vague.
The government announced on Thursday that “basic consumption” of gas would be subsidized by the state and thus become cheaper. The details are still open; the government is expecting proposals from an expert commission in mid-October. The gas price brake is to be financed via the Economic Stabilization Fund (WSF). The fund set up during the corona pandemic is to be equipped with credit authorizations of 200 billion euros.
Aid for ailing gas importers is also to be financed from the pot. The companies were supposed to benefit from the gas levy of around 2.4 cents per kilowatt hour.
Union faction leader Merz accused the federal government of acting too late in view of the energy crisis. “We are now in the eighth month of this war” between Russia and Ukraine, he said on Deutschlandfunk. “We have known for at least six months that there will be energy shortages. And now there is a commission.” The government must “come up with concrete proposals really quickly,” Merz demanded. “It also has to be done properly in terms of craftsmanship.” The Union faction is “of course ready to now also participate in the legislative process.”
Ifo boss Fuest called it “commendable” that the government wanted to counter the energy crisis. “But she bridles the horse from behind,” he told the “Rheinische Post”. “Announcing EUR 200 billion in additional debt-financed spending without having thought through and designed the measures is not appropriate.”
Warning of further rising prices
There is also a risk “that the aid will increase demand for energy,” warned the economist. “Putting more money on a limited amount of gas only drives up gas consumption and prices.”
Federal Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) meanwhile emphasized that the 200 billion euros are only the upper limit for combating the crisis. “We are creating a credit authorization of up to 200 billion for the time of the crisis, i.e. for 2022, 2023 and maybe 2024,” he told the “Rheinische Post”. “But our efforts must be aimed at not exhausting the 200 billion if possible.” At the same time, Lindner called for further efforts in the EU to cap the enormously high import price for gas. “My concern is to combat bizarre gas price exaggerations.”