MBecause of the crisis on the gas market, millions of district heating customers have to adjust much earlier to sharp price increases. The Federal Ministry of Economics wants to enable municipal utilities and private operating companies to pass on higher procurement costs to households within a few weeks. If things go as planned, the first new bills could be written as early as late summer.
Without the new regulation, “considerable liquidity problems could arise for the district heating supply companies. Ultimately, these would endanger the heat supply to customers,” says the draft. It is available from FAZ.NET.
The new regulation would affect many people with lower incomes. A total of around 5.5 million households in Germany heat with district heating, around 80 percent of which are rented apartments. According to the Federal Association of the Energy Industry (BDEW), almost half of the district heating is generated with natural gas. Other energy sources are not covered by the draft.
It would allow district heating suppliers to exercise their contractual right to adjust prices within two weeks of the gas price increase, regardless of the deadlines previously provided for. After the customers have been informed about the intended price increase, the new tariffs could then take effect after a further two weeks. In return, the customers should get a special right of termination.
With these changes, politicians are reacting to the emergency call from the public utility company, which is complaining that they cannot pass on their higher procurement costs for natural gas in a timely manner. “Public utilities can keep this up for a maximum of about three or four months,” Ingbert Liebing, head of the municipal utility association, warned in a FAZ interview at the beginning of the week.
This loophole in the new Energy Security Act must be closed. The association is not entirely satisfied. The regulation is urgently needed as a supplement and was also expressly requested by us, said a spokesman. In terms of the specific design, “there is certainly still room for improvement”.