German consumers paying record prices for power: portal

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Electricity prices charged to German households by local utilities have reached record highs, driven by high wholesale and carbon prices that are passed down to consumers, internet portal Check24 said on Tuesday, adding gas prices were also up.

FILE PHOTO: A gas hob is seen in this photo illustration shot December 2, 2013. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth/File Photo

“Consumers are paying a new record price for power. The main reason was the higher costs for carbon emission rights prices,” said Oliver Bohr, managing director of the portal’s energy section.

“Consumers must continue to reckon with high prices in future, a relief is not in sight,” he added.

Check24 looked at 834 local utilities that included municipal companies in cities such as Frankfurt, Aachen and Bremen, finding 500 had hiked prices in January, or announced that they would do so shortly.

The increases averaged 5.1 percent and applied to some 4.7 million households.

Check24 did not take into account a total of 66 other private sector utilities, including integrated operators such as Innogy or asset-free supply firms that operate nationwide, but these show a similar trend.

A typical household buying from a local supplier that consumes 5,000 kilowatt hours a year is now paying 1,437 euros per annum, 46 percent more than in 2007, Check24 said.

Day-ahead wholesale power prices last year rose 28.9 percent to 44.5 euros ($50.89) a megawatt hour (MWh), according to data from think-tank Agora.

Generators were faced with high gas and coal prices in the global market where demand for fuels expanded, while the cost of European carbon emissions rights prices more than doubled as a result of measures to curb supply.

Other big contributors to final power bills, renewable support fees and grid transport costs, were relatively stable.

State charges and taxes, mainly to support the renewable sector, have reached 52.8 percent of German customers’ final bills, helping to make German retail energy prices the highest in Europe alongside Denmark.

Power grid costs make up 24.4 percent, and procurement and distribution 22.8 percent, of final power bills.

As for gas, Check24 recorded 297 price raising intentions so far in 2019 among 710 companies it monitored in January.

Gas prices on the European bourse gained 50 percent between March and October last year, partly owing to a link to higher crude oil price levels.

The latest increases averaged 8.6 percent and applied to three million households.

A household using 20,000 kWh a year now pays 1,236 euros.

Reporting by Vera Eckert, editing by David Evans