More German utilities announce increases in power tariffs – Verivox
More German consumers than previously thought will receive an unwelcome Christmas present from their power suppliers. According to a new survey by consumer portal Verivox, published on Thursday, almost 330 utilities will raise prices as of 1st December or 1st January. Only two municipal utilities (Dinslaken and Fröndenberg, in North-Rhine Westphalia) were to lower tariffs, by 1.5% and 1.7% respectively. Earlier this year, Verivox said around 300 utilities would raise electricity tariffs at the beginning of 2008.
The increase in power prices averaged around 6.6%, compared with the beginning of 2007, the consumer portal explained, with consumers in Bavaria facing the steepest hikes. For example, a household in the small town of Markt Lichtenau, with a consumption of approximately 4,000 kWh per year, will see an increase of more than 34%. Other municipalities in the southern state have announced price rises of up to 25%.
In October, Eon said it would increase tariffs for gas and power by up to 9.9%, on average, as of January 2008. RWE announced price hikes of up to 10% in a number of regions (RWE Rhein-Ruhr, RWE Westfalen-Weser-Ems and subsidiary Lechwerke, in Bavaria). Since the beginning of November, regional supplier EWE, in northwestern Germany, has charged customers an additional 14%.
Utilities in Germany usually justify higher prices with a rise in procurement costs and subsidies for renewables-based energy. But consumer associations accuse them of attempting to exploit customers and of abusing their market power. Many politicians and the Federal Cartel Office (FCO) have made clear on several occasions that they doubted the justifications put forward by the energy suppliers.
On Thursday, minister for economy Michael Glos attacked the utilities unusually harshly. In a speech to the Bundestag, Glos said the utilities must not go too far. He pointed to the sharper cartel laws adopted about two weeks ago, which give the FCO more power in controlling energy prices. From next year, utilities have to disclose their calculations, and prove that their prices are justified, should the FCO suspect the opposite. The new law even gives the FCO the possibility to enforce cuts in energy prices. KTV
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