Russia cuts gas supplies. Which leads to an energy shortage. Energy companies are therefore forced to buy expensive alternatives, but also to comply with their supply contracts. So far, they have borne the additional costs themselves. That will change. You should know that.
On July 22, Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced the gas levy. Gas importers should be able to pass on their increased costs - the "full force" of the high prices should be distributed "on our common shoulders". The amount of the contribution will be announced today - and from October 1st it will be paid for a limited period of time. However, many details are still unclear, which is why consumer advocates have already called for a postponement to November 1st.
How high will the temporary contribution be?
Federal Minister of Economics Robert Habeck named a figure of 1.5 to 5 cents per kilowatt hour - that would be several hundred euros for a family household with an average consumption of 20,000 kilowatt hours. Once the allocation has been determined, it should be settled monthly. It can be adjusted every three months.
According to calculations by the comparison portal Check24, a single household with an annual consumption of 5000 kilowatt hours would pay between 89 and 298 euros, a family with a consumption of 20,000 kilowatt hours between 357 and 1190 euros - including VAT.
The allocation is billed monthly and can be adjusted every three months.
Some suppliers, such as RWE, have declared that they will initially not make use of the gas surcharge. Do such customers then not have to pay a gas surcharge?
Customers of companies who initially waive the levy must also pay the levy. But: The more companies refrain from claiming the surcharge, the lower it is likely to be.
What about VAT?
Habeck and Finance Minister Christian Lindner have spoken out in favor of exempting the surcharge from VAT at a rate of 19 percent. European legal provisions stand in the way. If value-added tax on the gas levy is legally unavoidable, "then the revenue from it should be distributed to low-income groups as a monthly energy payment," suggested Saarland Prime Minister Anke Rehlinger.
When will the payment request come?
The gas surcharge, which energy suppliers first have to pay, could only become visible to end customers on the November or even December bill. For reasons of consumer protection, the gas suppliers have to announce the surcharge four to six weeks in advance - by October 1st that should be too tight for many.
What about fixed-price contracts?
What can district heating customers expect?
District heating customers are "not covered" by the surcharge, according to the ministry's question-and-answer catalog last week. This question is also currently being examined.
Are there any reliefs?
The government has promised "targeted relief," especially for those who have little money and are particularly hard hit by price hikes. Exactly which ones - there are no specifications yet.
On what legal basis does the federal government act?
The new paragraph 26 in the Energy Security Act (ENSIG) is decisive. The additional costs for the procurement of replacement gas are distributed among all suppliers and ultimately gas customers. The levy is the same for all suppliers. It is temporary and ends on April 1, 2024.
Paragraph 24 of the same law does not apply, because the price adjustment mechanism provided for there would have allowed the affected suppliers and customers to pass it on. Those who buy a lot of gas from Russia would have been at a disadvantage here.
How exactly does the mechanism work?
From October, importers can be reimbursed for the difference between the purchase price for the failed deliveries and the cost of purchasing a replacement - up to 90 percent. They continue to pay the remaining 10 percent themselves.
To do this, the companies must apply for compensation from Trading Hub Europe (THE), the market area manager in the German gas market. THE calculates the exact amount of the surcharge and passes the costs on to the energy suppliers, such as the public utility company. They can pass the costs on to end users. Auditors and the Federal Network Agency will monitor the process.
Why does the state intervene?
Russia has recently systematically reduced its gas supplies to Germany, creating an "artificial energy shortage" according to the Economics Ministry. Energy companies like Uniper, which import the raw material, are therefore forced to buy expensive alternatives. At the same time, they must comply with their supply contracts with their customers.
So far, the importers have borne 100 percent of the additional costs themselves. The state wants to prevent them from getting into financial difficulties in the long term and the supply chain collapsing like a domino effect. Uniper has already had to apply for state aid.