Germany mulls scrapping energy bill surcharge early as prices rise

A gas meter is pictured in the cellar of a home in Bad Honnef, near Bonn, Germany, January 4, 2022 as energy costs in the EU reach new levels. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay

BERLIN, Jan 22 (Reuters) - The German government may scrap this year a surcharge on electricity bills used to support renewable power, to ease the strain of rising energy costs on millions of households, Social Democrat (SPD) co-leader Lars Klingbeil said on Saturday.

Germany's three ruling parties agreed in their coalition deal presented in November to abolish the so-called EEG fee on electricity bills from Jan. 1, 2023.

"We're now examining whether it can be brought forward," Klingbeil said on the sidelines of a meeting of the SPD, the party of Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

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The surcharge was cut by 43% from Jan. 1 but is still expected to cost households an average 222 euros this year. read more

Klingbeil said the government had to do more to support consumers facing soaring costs for heating and lighting, hence the talks between the SPD and its junior coalition partners.

"I am very sure that we'll see results very quickly," he added.

Some 4.2 million German households will see their electricity bills rise by an average 63.7% this year while 3.6 million face gas bills 62.3% higher than in 2021 as suppliers pass on record wholesale costs, industry data suggests. read more

Like many other countries, Germany has been in the grip of an energy crisis since the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions last year saw huge demand for depleted stocks of natural gas, sending prices of gas, related commodities and carbon emissions permits to their highest in years.

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Reporting by Andreas Rinke Writing by Michael Nienaber Editing by Catherine Evans

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