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EnBW's district heating distribution station: Incomprehensible price increases

Photo: Marijan Murat / dpa

In the course of the heat transition, the Federation of German Consumer Organisations has called on the German government to strengthen the rights of district heating customers. "Millions of households in Germany heat with district heating. If the transition to climate neutrality succeeds in this area, it would be a big step towards the heat transition," explained vzbv board member Ramona Pop in Berlin. However, the district heating market must finally be made more consumer-friendly.

"The complaints to the consumer centers about non-transparent prices and incomprehensible price increases show that there is a great deal of ambiguity and problems here," says Pop. "A nationwide, systematic price supervision could take into account the heating market and the pricing of suppliers."

Non-transparent prices

Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) and Construction Minister Klara Geywitz (SPD) have invited representatives of the industry to a "district heating summit" next Monday in Berlin. As it was said from circles of the ministries, a "clear signal of departure" for the climate-neutral conversion and expansion of the district heating supply is to be sent.

On the one hand, the coalition is planning a reform of the Building Energy Act – the so-called Heating Act – as well as a reform of municipal heat planning. According to the draft law, states and municipalities are to present concrete plans in the coming years on how they want to convert their heating infrastructure to be climate-neutral. This is intended to give citizens an important orientation by finding out whether their house will soon be connected to a district or local heating network – or whether they should convert their heating to a heat pump in the foreseeable future.

Pop called the expansion of district heating an essential component of the heat transition. The decisive factor for the acceptance of district heating is that the prices are comprehensible and fair for consumers. "It is also important for acceptance that the obligation to connect and use is abolished. Heating networks should be convincing due to the quality of their offer and should not be able to invoke official coercion."