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Snow-covered power lines in Siegerland: Cancellation of subsidies "completely ignorant"?

Photo: IMAGO / Rene Traut

The uncertainties about the upcoming budget could cost electricity customers in Germany dearly. The electricity provider Lichtblick warns of a billion-euro burden for electricity customers due to rising grid fees.

In an incendiary letter to the energy committee of the Bundestag, the company's management demands, according to the company, that the promotion of transmission grid fees promised by the federal government must be maintained despite the difficult budget situation. In addition to private and commercial consumers, energy suppliers would also be burdened in an "unreasonable manner". Above all, those suppliers who have agreed fixed prices with their customers and had priced in the subsidy to the network fees would be affected.

A hundred euros in additional costs per household?

Originally, it was planned to provide a new subsidy of 5.5 billion euros for transmission grid charges via the Economic Stabilisation Fund. This subsidy could now be abolished without replacement. Electricity costs would then rise by about 4 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh), according to grid operators. An average household consumes 3500 to 4000 kWh per year. As far as the share of transmission network charges is concerned, it is therefore roughly a question of whether there is a risk of a charge of 120 euros or 250 euros.

Industries such as the chemical industry are also warning of rising costs. Large factories do not pay fees for all grid levels, as some of them are directly connected to high-voltage or even transmission lines; In addition, there are discounts for energy-intensive companies that are in international competition. Nevertheless, it would be "completely ignorant" if the planned subsidies were cancelled, the German Chemical Industry Association (VCI) said. In this way, "the companies that are already struggling massively will be shown the ice-cold shoulder," said Managing Director Wolfgang Große Entrup.

A year ago, the federal government had already withdrawn 13 billion euros from the Economic Stabilisation Fund (WSF) to curb grid charges in 2023. Due to the Karlsruhe budget ruling, further financing is open. Politicians are now arguing about whether they can once again justify an emergency situation in order to suspend the debt brake once again – or whether they should rather save.

In addition to the lack of subsidies, there are two main reasons for the increase in grid fees: billions of euros in investments in the expansion and modernization of the lines in order to integrate new wind and solar farms. And if the capacity of the grids is not sufficient, the operators have to throttle power plants temporarily; this particularly affects wind turbines in northern Germany, which receive compensation for this. At the same time, power plants south of the bottlenecks have to step in; In total, this so-called redispatch costs billions every year.

In order to relieve the burden on regions with a particularly large amount of renewable energy and thus particularly high grid charges, the Federal Network Agency has now presented a plan.