An the face of an impending gas supply stop by Russia, the federal government and the network agency have called on consumers to save energy. Everyone in industry and privately can contribute, said Netzagentur boss Klaus Müller on Friday in the ARD “Morgenmagazin”. “And yes, that also includes the jumper, the shower head, turning the heating down a bit. All of that helps.” Consumer Minister Steffi Lemke said that companies and public institutions are just as challenged as households. Economics Minister Robert Habeck (both Greens) warned that Russia could turn off the gas tap completely in the summer.
Bundesnetzagentur boss Müller believes it is possible for consumer prices for gas to triple. “If you extrapolate it, it depends a lot on how you heat, how your building is constructed. But the previous gas bill can triple,” said Müller on Thursday the broadcasters RTL / ntv.
Habeck had announced the second stage of the three-stage gas emergency plan on Thursday because Russia had throttled the delivery volume. The state-owned company Gazprom only pumps a maximum of 67 million cubic meters a day instead of 167 million and justifies this with Western sanctions that were imposed in response to the Russian attack on Ukraine. The federal government has rejected this. Specifically, Russia refers to a pump that is stuck abroad.
With the lower delivery volumes, fears are growing that German gas storage facilities will not be sufficiently filled before winter. According to Müller, it is also possible that Russia will completely stop deliveries through the most important pipeline, Nord Stream. “We cannot rule it out.” His authority calculated various scenarios. “Most of the scenarios are not nice and mean either too little gas at the end of winter or – very difficult situation – in autumn or winter.”
Worry about pipeline maintenance on July 11th
Habeck accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of keeping prices high in Germany and Europe by reducing gas exports in order to stir up unrest. The federal government’s measures should also serve to unite society so that Putin does not win. “That’s what it’s about,” said the minister on ZDF’s “heute journal”. Putin’s spokesman rejected on Thursday that the cutback in deliveries was politically motivated.
Energy suppliers and politicians are now looking with concern at Nord Stream’s ten-day routine maintenance, which begins on July 11. When asked if he feared that Russia would no longer supply gas after that, Habeck said on RTL: “I would have to lie if I said I’m not afraid of it.”
In that case, it is feared that gas prices will continue to rise. The suppliers still do not have a “right to adjust prices”. If the network agency activates a certain mechanism, they could pass on the higher prices to end consumers within a week. Price guarantees that are concluded with one-year contracts, for example, would then no longer apply. Passing on prices is intended to prevent utilities from collapsing.
Tenants’ association calls for a moratorium on termination
Müller warned that prices could double or triple, depending on the building. Therefore, the citizens should save money and talk to the landlords in the direction of autumn. “Now there is still something you can do.”
Consumer Minister Lemke told the German Press Agency that private households and social facilities such as hospitals are particularly protected in all stages of the gas emergency plan. “For the federal government, it is crucial that the energy supply in Germany remains secure.”
Rising energy costs are also causing concern among tenants. The President of the German Tenants’ Association, Lukas Siebenkotten, told the editorial network Germany: “We are calling for a termination moratorium that ensures that no one may be terminated who cannot pay their utility bills on time due to sharply increased heating costs.”