Berlin (dpa) - Consumers in Germany will face a sharp rise in their electricity costs in the coming year.

The nationwide average price for a kilowatt hour could skyrocket by 7 percent to 32.2 cents if the expected increase in the green electricity levy is not prevented, the comparison portal Verivox has calculated. In this case, a three-person household with an annual consumption of 4000 kilowatt hours would have to reckon with additional costs of 88 euros.

According to a forecast by the Agora Energiewende think tank, the levy for the expansion of renewable energies in 2021 could rise from a current high of around 6.8 cents per kilowatt hour to a record high, mainly due to the significantly lower electricity price on the stock exchange and the drop in electricity demand due to the Corona crisis Rise 8.6 cents. Energy supplier Eon and IG Bergbau, Chemie und Energie (IG BCE) also expect a similar increase if no countermeasures are taken.

Business associations called on the federal government to act. "If electricity prices continue to rise, it could be a heavy brake on the way out of the crisis," said the deputy chief executive of the BDI industry association, Holger Lösch, the German press agency. The chief executive of the BDEW energy association, Kerstin Andreae, told the dpa that it was high time to act to avoid a drastic rise in electricity prices.

Relief in electricity prices could also be part of an economic package worth billions, which the leaders of the black-red coalition want to decide after Pentecost. As part of its climate protection program, the Federal Government has been planning to gradually reduce the EEG surcharge by around 1.5 cents per kilowatt hour from 2021 - in return for burdens on refueling and heating. From 2021 onwards, CO2 pricing will start in traffic and in buildings.

But even in this case, consumers could not hope for a falling electricity price. According to Verivox calculations, this would still lead to an additional annual burden on the three-person household of 17 euros.

IG BCE chief Michael Vassiliadis calls for the EEG surcharge as part of the Corona stimulus package to be completely abolished and the costs of the energy transition to be financed through the federal budget. "It has never been more necessary than today," said Vassiliadis of dpa. The cancellation of the levy “would have a far more social impact than tax relief”.

The income from the levy compensates for the difference between the electricity price determined on the exchange and the guaranteed payments to the green electricity producers. Because of the significantly lower stock exchange prices, this gap has recently widened considerably.

The EEG account, which is used for payments by electricity customers and the income from the sale of green electricity on the stock exchange, has been drained significantly. The transmission system operator Amprion, which manages the account together with the three other network operators, had to secure a loan of 500 million euros in order to be able to make the payments.

The amount of electricity generated from renewable energies has continued to increase. According to calculations by the energy group Eon, more than 108 billion kilowatt hours of green electricity have been fed in since the beginning of the year - an increase of 8 percent compared to the same period last year.

In addition to the EEG surcharge, network charges are also an important part of the electricity price - this is where the Federal Association of German Industry (BDI) wants to start. CEO Lösch said that lowering network charges would benefit most companies and private consumers alike. The coal commission has proposed a reduction in network charges in the volume of two billion euros per year. A lowering of the electricity tax to the European minimum rate - this is also in the political debate - would primarily benefit private consumers.

Network costs and the EEG surcharge are foreseeable the two biggest drivers of electricity costs, said Lösch. «It is therefore right to start with relief at these two points. Especially with tax financing of parts of the EEG, however, it must be ensured that there is no uncertainty regarding the state aid law. »

The cost of purchasing electricity should not continue to rise uncontrollably: "The companies are already badly hit." High prices also hampered the need for greater electrification of industrial processes in terms of climate policy, says Lösch: "Germany has to get down from the top European position in terms of electricity prices."

BDEW managing director Andreae called for a noticeable reduction in the tax burden, which is particularly high in Germany with more than 50 percent of the electricity price. "This is not only an enormous burden for consumers, but also hinders the competitiveness of the business location and is counterproductive in terms of climate policy."

This imbalance would be exacerbated by the Corona crisis. The agreements on CO2 pricing and the associated relief of the EEG surcharge from the climate protection program would have to be implemented quickly. It is also about permanently reducing the EEG surcharge. The electricity tax must go down to the minimum under European law.