E.ON CEO says Germany must keep green power affordable

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - The head of Germany’s largest energy company E.ON on Tuesday urged the German government to increase funds for green power infrastructure and cap costs to consumers as the demand drop following the coronavirus outbreak saps existing finance.

A fall in wholesale prices because of the collapse in energy use during lockdowns means consumers effectively have to pay more to top up a green fund that guarantees earnings for the utilities that provide renewable power.[EL/DE]

In an earnings call on Tuesday, Chief Executive Johannes Teyssen said the bills consumers faced were likely to “go through the roof” unless the government allocated money from the federal budget to cap the amount they pay in green subsidies and to cut energy taxes.

“We must ensure green power remains affordable, being the key element of climate protection,” Teyssen said during an earnings call.

“At the same time we must promote the sustainable electrification of sectors like transport and heat through investments for the time after corona.”

Supplying 50 million customers across Europe, E.ON has clout in energy debates.

It also has a particular interest in the health of Germany’s green power market as a sector shake-up has left it with grids and client accounts and no fossil fuel assets.

Teyssen was critical of the level of a fee paid under German law to producers as a central part of the country’s green energy transition. Together with other taxes and fees, it helps to make German retail power prices the highest in Europe after Denmark.

E.ON expects the fee could rise to 8 euro cents a kilowatt hour (kWh) in 2021, up by nearly 18% from 2020.

Labour unions have said electricity prices are becoming a social issue as cash-strapped householders cannot cope.

Teyssen also said that another German tax on power - called the eco-tax and worth 7 billion euros ($7.57 billion) a year - should be cut.

Reporting by Vera Eckert; editing by Riham Alkousaa and Barbara Lewis