German gas and power prices for households at new highs

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Flames from a gas burner on a cooker are seen February 1, 2017 in this illustration photo taken in a private home in Nice, France. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

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FRANKFURT, March 16 (Reuters) - War in Ukraine and the threat of energy supply disruptions have driven gas and electricity bills for German householders entering into new contracts to record highs and will filter down to others over time, data showed on Wednesday.

A household using 20,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) per year and agreeing a new annual contract in March had to pay a record 3,305 euros ($3,632), equivalent to 16.5 cents/kWh, price comparison portal Check24 said.

That is 62% above the monthly price in December.

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"Consumers have seen an unprecedented wave of gas price hikes this winter," said Steffen Suttner, Managing Director Energy at Check24, pointing to soaring wholesale prices.

The Russia-Ukraine war could bring further increases due to uncertainty about the availability of gas, said Check24.

Half of Germany's 41.5 million households use gas for heating.

The focus in wholesale markets is turning to rebuilding depleted gas inventories ahead of next winter, which requires high prices to incentivise stockbuilding.

The European Gas Spot index at German trading hub THE is up 93% this month from the previous month.

Electricity prices are also at record levels.

A new 5,000 kWh annual supply contract costs an average of 2,098 euros, or 42 cents/kWh, 23% more than in December, Check24 said.

For professional buyers, prices on the EEX bourse this month are 283 euros/MWh, 130% more than in February, which means households face more increases due to utilities' higher purchasing costs, Suttner said.

"Once energy volumes procured by suppliers before the crisis are used up, they will have to make more purchases at the currently expensive exchange prices," he said. "At that stage, prices for their customers will also continue to rise."

The annual volumes represent energy requirements of typical terraced or detached family homes.

($1 = 0.9100 euros)

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Reporting by Vera Eckert Editing by Mark Potter

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