Consumer center advises customers to save Stadtwerke Bonn to raise energy prices considerably
Bonn · Customers of Stadtwerke Bonn will have to be prepared for rising electricity and gas prices. But because the required gas supplies have already been largely procured, prices are expected to remain stable until the spring - provided the crisis does not worsen.
Customers of Stadtwerke Bonn will have to prepare for rising electricity and gas prices. The company is currently sending out information letters. For some customers, they might see electricity price increases of up to 63 percent, although this will be offset by the elimination of the EEG surcharge. Since most of the required gas supplies have already been procured, prices are expected to remain stable until spring - provided the crisis does not worsen. The Verbraucherzentrale (Consumer Protection Agency) advises consumers to be careful when switching contracts and to save energy.
The letter that reached a GA reader's house was quite something. Stadtwerke Bonn informed him that the energy price for one kilowatt hour of electricity would increase from 20.56 cents to 35.78 cents as of September 1. And also the basic price grew from 9.48 euro to 11.01 euro. According to SWB spokeswoman Stefanie Zießnitz, this increase looks more drastic than it actually is. Because in the letter, they listed the price after the lowering of the EEG levy to July 1, 2022 as "current price". When the contract was signed, the electricity price was not 20.56 cents, but 24.99 cents, which means that the price increase is no longer 63 percent, but actually more like 39 percent. "In electricity, we see price increases of 30 to 35 percent compared to before the Ukraine crisis," Zießnitz says. In practice, she says, this means that a three- to four-person household consuming 3500 kilowatt hours of electricity would face annual additional costs of around 510 euros for the BonnHome tariff. The additional costs customers have to expect in individual cases depend on their electricity product and the time at which they concluded the contract.
Gas price to remain stable until spring
The situation is different for gas. Like many other suppliers, the municipal utility had charged higher prices for new customers than for existing customers. However, this practice was overturned following a decision by the German parliament. The fact that the company made this distinction at all had to do with the fact that following the bankruptcy of some suppliers, the municipal utilities had to step in as a replacement and basic supplier. This in turn meant that they had to purchase gas on the current market at a high price - but they did not want to pass on these high prices to existing customers. With the uniform tariff regulation, the gas price at Stadtwerke Bonn has almost tripled since the beginning of 2021, as it has for other suppliers. After the latest price increase of around 60 percent in June, a kilowatt hour costs between 14.53 and 18.02 cents, depending on the product. Procurement prices are currently around 20 cents, ten times higher than a year ago. The favorable prices from back then still play a role now, as the current price for the end customer is a mixed calculation due to the long-term purchasing strategy.
"We are trying to keep natural gas prices stable at the current level until next spring," says Zießnitz. A large part of the gas volumes needed for 2022 and the first quarter of 2023 have already been procured, she said. Since partial quantities still have to be purchased at current prices, prices were increased on June 1. If the crisis worsens, further short-term adjustments cannot be ruled out. Any predictions are hardly possible, she said. "However, it can already be assumed that the prices for oil and gas in particular will remain at a high level in the coming years."
It is theoretically possible that the city of Bonn, which is a shareholder in SWB, will have to step in if there are any loss-making transactions. "From an economic point of view, we are capable of acting even in the current exceptional situation and have adjusted our credit lines as a precaution," says Zießnitz.
Consumer Protection Agency warns against low-cost providers
At the consumer center in Bonn, inquiries concerning the energy sector have been piling up ever since the war in Ukraine began. To cope with the high level of customer inquiries, there are now online training sessions four times a week, for example on energy renovation. "The on-site consultations are fully booked until the end of the year, and for face-to-face consultations we currently have appointments again beginning in September," says consultant Yvonnne Schürmann. One scam that is currently keeping her and her colleagues very busy involves advertising calls from wind energy providers. "They get customers to switch to them with the argument of being cheaper." But in practice, it often looks different, and suddenly high prices are charged. Also, the companies that offer price comparisons such as Verivox or Check24 are not always reliable. "They can no longer keep up with price changes. If you want to make a change, you should take a weekend and research thoroughly." Schürmann assumes, however, that in the current situation it is hardly possible to save money by switching. "Instead, one should focus on saving energy in general." Stadtwerke Bonn is also calling for customers to do just that.
(Orig. text: Nicolas Ottersbach / Translation: Carol Kloeppel)