AIn view of a possible imminent energy shortage in winter, the cities are working on contingency plans and are examining measures to save gas, which are to be implemented now. “One thing is clear: Nobody should have to freeze in winter,” said the deputy general manager of the German Association of Cities, Verena Göppert. Social associations called for better protection for tenants and consumers because they are likely to face higher energy costs.
Maintenance work on the Baltic Sea pipeline Nord Stream 1 is currently increasing concern that Russia will not be able to resume gas deliveries via the last most important connection to Germany after the work is completed. If Russia turns off the gas tap, there could be a gas shortage during the heating period, which could cause serious damage to the economy and make energy for private households significantly more expensive. Maintenance usually takes up to ten days.
“If the gas tap is turned off in Germany, private households are among the particularly protected customers – so energy would only be rationed for them last,” said Verena Göppert from the German Association of Cities. It would be even better if gas supplies were sufficient and restrictions were not necessary at all. In the current situation, saving energy is a task for society as a whole. The cities are therefore currently examining many short-term savings measures. They “leave out lights, for example, do without hot water in public buildings, turn off fountains, regulate the temperature of air conditioning and bathing water differently”.
What happens in the event of a crisis?
In addition, the cities with their crisis management teams and the municipal suppliers are developing crisis plans in the event that the federal government should declare the gas emergency level and gas should be rationed, according to the city council. There is also close coordination with the federal government, the federal states and the Federal Network Agency.
When asked about possible precautions for an energy shortage at the Federal Office for Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance (BBK), a spokeswoman said: “With regard to gas shortages, the experts in the area of critical infrastructure are very vigilant and are in constant contact with the Federal Network Agency.” The aim is “to be able to assess the situation precisely and, if necessary, to draw conclusions for civil protection”.
The joint competence center of the federal and state governments at the BBK, which is still under construction, initially focused on the creation of a uniform picture of the situation. Assessments and decisions would then be possible on this basis should the situation deteriorate.
The Social Association Germany (SoVD) immediately demanded a concept from the federal government that would take away people’s fears that they would be sitting in a cold apartment in winter or ending up on the street because they could no longer pay their bills. Vice President Ursula Engelen-Kefer explained that people with such “existential fears” should not be left alone. The social association VdK calls for protection against dismissal for such hardship cases. Nobody should lose their apartment in autumn and winter if heating costs can no longer be paid, said VdK President Verena Bentele in the “Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung”.
The leader of the Greens, Britta Haßelmann, also sees the need to reinsure low earners in particular in uncertain times like these. She supported the proposal by Consumer Protection Minister Steffi Lemke to introduce a moratorium on gas and electricity cuts in the event of late payment if energy prices rose even more. What we’re seeing right now isn’t even the bottlenecks we’re talking about,” said Haßelmann on the ntv talk show “#beisenherz”. “It is therefore an important signal that we politically promise that people who have little must be sure that they can rely on receiving support for electricity and heat if they cannot do it on their own be able.”