Bonn (dpa) – According to calculations by the Federal Network Agency, many consumers in Germany pay too much for electricity and gas because they do not pay their expensive basic supply rates.
By simply switching to another gas supplier, you could save an average of € 240 a year, according to figures from the new monitoring report from the Federal Network Agency and the Federal Cartel Office available to the German Press Agency.
For domestic electricity in the basic supply, the Federal Network Agency determined an average price of 33.8 cents per kilowatt hour as of April 1, 2020. More than a third of domestic customers still had such an expensive contract last year . The authority emphasizes that significant savings can be achieved through another contract with the local electricity supplier.
The greatest savings potential is when you switch to a competitor of the local supplier, since in this case the average price per kilowatt hour was 31.2 cents. For a domestic customer with an annual purchase of 3,500 kilowatt hours, this translates into an average saving in electricity costs of about 90 euros per year ”, underlines the network agency. Special bonuses, such as new customer bonus payments, could significantly increase these savings by around eight percent.
For gas customers, there is usually even greater savings potential due to the higher amounts that are required primarily for heating. Here, too, the basic supply contract is the most expensive type of delivery at 6.99 cents per kilowatt hour. However, it was used by around a quarter of gas customers in 2019. With alternative suppliers, the average price was just 5.96 cents per kilowatt hour. The network agency estimates that a household could have saved 240 euros a year with the change. Also in this case, change bonuses could be added.
Consumer advocates have long criticized prices. “A lot of basic supply tariffs are priced too high,” said Udo Sieverding, an energy expert at the North Rhine-Westphalia consumer center. At the beginning of the year, there was “room for price reductions in numerous areas of the grid” for electricity, because supplier acquisition costs had fallen and the EEG surcharge was lower. The federal government has capped the consumer’s contribution to promoting green electricity to 6.5 cents next year. This year, the EEG surcharge is 6,756 cents.
Utilities indicate that to ensure security of supply they must buy electricity and gas well in advance and therefore cannot pass on lower exchange prices on short notice. In addition, bad debt losses due to payment defaults should be factored into the basic service rates. The basic supplier must, in principle, supply electricity or gas to all domestic customers.
According to figures from the Federal Network Agency, the gap between basic supply and alternative rates has increased in recent years. In the case of electricity, the basic supply rate was 4 percent more expensive in 2010, now it is around 8 percent. In the case of gas, the gap grew from a good 9 to more than 17 percent during the same period.
But why do many households stick to expensive fees? Consumer advocate Sieverding names four groups: For consumers with a Schufa entry, a switch is only possible with a few providers. But there are also clients who are overwhelmed by the formalities of the change or are dissuaded by the insolvency of the providers. Others “really wanted to change for a long time, but haven’t addressed it yet.” Public services also have customers who deliberately stay loyal to their traditional provider because they support swimming pools, associations, or local transportation.