The shortage of gas reserves will continue to lead to rising prices, and many customers are likely to have to make substantial additional payments. But consumer advocates are also observing free-rider effects among suppliers. In order to avoid shocks, the head of the network agency proposes lowering the minimum temperature in rented apartments.
The President of the Federal Network Agency, Klaus Müller, wants to increase the pressure on private households and companies to save gas. "There are specifications in tenancy law according to which the landlord must adjust the heating system during the heating period so that a minimum temperature of between 20 and 22 degrees Celsius is reached. The state could temporarily lower the heating specifications for landlords. We are discussing this with politicians." , said Müller of the "Rheinische Post".
It is important to save as much gas as possible to get through the next winter. Companies should be encouraged to save gas with bonuses: "We want to establish mechanisms to reward companies that voluntarily give up gas quotas with a bonus. It's always better if adjustments are made through prices than through dirigiste specifications," Müller continued.
The head of the Netzagentur expects gas prices to continue to rise and substantial additional payments: "The gas prices for private households have already multiplied compared to the pre-war period. Tenants can be in for a nasty surprise when high additional payments are due. That can quickly amount to more than a thousand Euro, shock waves will go through the country. Banks will ramp up their business with installment loans, ailing companies are threatened with bankruptcy."
According to information from consumer protection groups and the tenants' association, energy suppliers are already passing on the sharply increased costs to consumers. "Many customers are currently experiencing enormous price increases for oil, gas and electricity," said Melanie Weber-Moritz, federal director of the German Tenants' Association, of the "Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung". Whether discounts or tariffs - a wave of price increases is coming to households, said Udo Sieverding from the consumer advice center in North Rhine-Westphalia. Municipal utilities have also increased gas prices by 100 percent or more.
"In our opinion, not a few providers achieve free-rider effects," said Sieverding. He called on the antitrust authorities to investigate utilities "to send signals to the industry to keep price increases moderate". In addition, politicians must initiate additional relief.
The tenants' association also called for additional help from politicians. "Instead of one-off payments, we need permanent relief for heating costs, at least for the time of the energy crisis," said Weber-Moritz. "In addition, it must be ensured that tenants cannot be given notice of termination if they cannot pay their high additional payment within 30 days of receiving the utility bill." The tenants' association also believes that landlords have a duty: due to the principle of economic efficiency, they are required to obtain comparative offers, i.e. to look for the cheapest providers of gas or heating oil.