* Fee for green energy expansion goes up 3 pct
* Households likely to face higher bills next year
* Government reforms had aimed at lowering fee (Adds detail, context, impact)
FRANKFURT, Oct 15 (Reuters) - A surcharge levied on German consumers to support renewable power will rise 3 percent next year, despite government efforts to scale back support for green power, a statement from the country’s network operators (TSOs) showed on Thursday.
The surcharge under the renewable energy act (EEG) will be 6.354 euro cents per kilowatt hour (kWh), up from 6.170 cents this year, it said.
Sources told Reuters last week that the fee, which is added to consumers’ bills, would rise by this amount and a leading green energy group had also anticipated higher costs.
It had fallen this year for the first time since it was introduced in 2000.
The fee represents the biggest single item to finance Germany’s “Energiewende” policy, amounting to a total 22.3 billion euros ($25.49 billion) in 2014, according to the TSOs.
Its growing size has created concern, leading to reforms to the system of rewarding green energy with above-market payments last year. These curbed incentives and set caps on green energy expansion, also mandating that it must be better integrated into the wholesale electricity market.
The TSOs, which are supervised by the energy regulator, the Bundesnetzagentur, cited the following factors:
Germany is adding more wind power capacity both offshore and onshore as well as biomass, which means more money is paid out under the EEG act..
Also, the gap between guaranteed EEG prices and wholesale market prices obtained by mainly thermal power plants on energy bourse EEX has risen because prices have fallen sharply amid a fuels markets slump. They are currently at 12-year lows.
The EEG provides for the difference between EEG support and market prices to help young technologies such as wind turbines and solar panels compete with conventional energy.
The real eventual cost of the surcharge depends on weather patterns — which rule how much renewable energy is produced and entitled to support from the EEG account only once it is fed into the grid.
A household using 3,500 kWh per year would have to pay 222.39 euros towards the EEG alone in 2016, 3 percent more than this year, retail portal Toptarif said.
The four high voltage network operators are utility EnBW’s TransnetBW as well as 50Hertz, the former grid unit of Vattenfall Europe, TenneT, formerly belonging to E.ON , and Amprion, where former full owner RWE maintains a minority stake.
$1 = 0.8747 euros Reporting by Vera Eckert; Editing by Christoph Steitz/Jeremy Gaunt