October 11, 2018 / 10:41 AM / 11 days ago

Green power levy on German consumers set to fall next year

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - German consumers, who pay the highest electricity bills in Europe, are likely to see a 4.2 percent drop in the surcharge they have to pay to support renewable power next year, green energy lobby group BEE forecast on Thursday.

FILE PHOTO: A view shows windmills of several wind farms at the so-called "HelWin-Cluster", located 35 kilometres (22 miles) north of the German island of Heligoland November 5, 2014. REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer/File Photo

The levy is a key part of Germany’s Energiewende policy to switch to less environmentally damaging sources of energy, but has sparked criticism from some consumers, with all government fees now accounting for over 50 percent of final power bills.

The surcharge under the renewable energy act (EEG) could fall to 6.51 euro cents (7.52 U.S. cents) per kilowatt hour (kWh) in 2019 from 6.792 cents in 2018, BEE said in a statement.

It gave a forecast range was 6.4-6.6 cents.

Germany’s four network operators (TSOs), which collect the fee, are due to announce the 2019 surcharge next Monday, but BEE’s predictions have in the past been close to the outcome. The fee accounts for about a fifth of consumers’ final bills.

Explaining the expected fall, BEE pointed to a rise in wholesale power prices, which has allowed renewable producers to achieve higher revenues and so rely less on subsidies. [EL/DE]

Indeed, the funds collected to support green electricity are expected to exceed anticipated payouts next year, even though an increase in wind and solar installations will raise the number of potential recipients for subsidies.

The eventual cost depends on weather patterns, which determine how much renewable energy is generated, and so how much producers can claim from the EEG account.

Payouts under the EEG this year are expected to amount to over 25 billion euros ($29 billion), according to industry estimates.

So far, the surcharge has only fallen twice since its introduction in 2000 - in 2015 and 2018.

Internet portal Check24 said last week annual power bills paid by German households had risen 17 percent year-on-year to a total of 5.36 billion euros.

The wholesale price of German round-the-clock power delivery next year has increased by 38 percent since the start of the year to stand at 51 euros a megawatt hour (MWh), Refinitiv Eikon data shows.

($1 = 0.8660 euros)

Reporting by Vera Eckert; Editing by Thomas Seythal and Mark Potter

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