For households to 110 euros: Energy regulator E-Control expects an increase in green electricity costs

For households to 110 euros: Energy regulator E-Control expects an increase in green electricity costs

This year, green electricity costs for households are expected to rise to 110 euros. E-Control sees more intense competition in the energy sector.

4.33 p.m., March 15, 2021

© (c) Jürgen Fuchs (Jürgen Fuchs)

According to the regulator E-Control, competition in the energy sector has increased in Austria in recent years. There are now 155 electricity and 50 gas suppliers active in Austria, almost 60 and 30 of them nationwide. Where the prices are high, there are higher exchange rates, said E-Control board member Wolfgang Urbantschitsch on Monday. Grosso modo one sees the electricity price level unchanged for the next few years. However, green electricity costs would rise.

The total price for a typical electricity household has risen in the past five years for all local providers, on a weighted average by almost 9 percent – For gas, on the other hand, the total price fell by up to 12 percent, according to Urbantschitsch. The competition is more established in the east than in the west, can be seen from the turnover figures. The most important price comparison tool is E-Control’s tariff calculator, which will also be subject to relaunches in the future. As before, the energy industry is so intertwined that there is only limited competition. The competition will increasingly move away from the price as soon as further product differentiations are added.

Wolfgang Urbantschitsch, Board Member E-Control
Wolfgang Urbantschitsch, Board Member E-Control Photo © (c) Anna Rauchberger / E-Control ((c) / Anna Rauchberger)

With the further roll-out of the “intelligent electricity meter”, there will be more dynamic prices, as would be provided by new business models. At present, however, the rollout of smart meters in Austria is only around 30 percent. He expects substantial progress in the next two or three years. All those who already want a smart meter should receive it within a few weeks, because these devices are also a prerequisite for the new energy communities.

Andreas Eigenbauer, Board Member E-Control
Andreas Eigenbauer, Board Member E-Control Photo © (c) Anna Rauchberger / E-Control ((c) / Anna Rauchberger)

The number of electricity and gas shutdowns by household customers has recently settled at a low level until January of this year, which is significantly lower than in the time before the crisis, said Urbantschitsch in a press conference. Until June last year, the industry voluntarily waived shutdowns and waived reminder fees. Initially, there was an increase in shutdowns into autumn, but then a decrease. Presumably, the customers would have been able to pay their bills in the end, and the energy companies might have exercised restraint.

Green electricity: SPÖ insists on a 100 euro cap

Through the planned expansion of green electricity the green electricity costs would of course rise, said E-Control board member Andreas Eigenbauer. For this year he put the green electricity costs for an average household at 110 euros, based on the relevant ordinance. For the year after, 130 euros are possible. The forecast for the previous year was 91 euros, the exact invoice is still pending. The subsidy depends on the market price, it depends on the difference. According to Urbantschitsch, the funding results from the Green Electricity Act: “E-Control does not decide who has to pay how much for green electricity under what circumstances.”

The SPÖ insists on a 100 euro cap in parliament for its yes to the Renewable Expansion Law (EAG). Climate protection minister Leonore Gewessler (Greens) had referred on the radio to the range of 80 to 120 euros of the annual green electricity costs and said that even if you ignite the turbo while expanding, it would “not be much more than 20 euros on it”. That would be the equivalent of 1.50 euros plus / minus per month for a household, so that everyone would build the future of climate protection together.

Focus on security of supply

With the advance of e-cars, electricity production will keep pace, self-builders assured. In terms of quantity, this is “not a problem”. By the year 2030, the generation capacity in Austria should be expanded by 27 terawatt hours (TWh), and with 30 percent e-car share in 2030, only 4 to 6 TWh of additional electricity would be needed. If almost everyone wants to charge at the same time, the problem is the installed power, not the amount of electricity. Therefore, according to Urbantschitsch, charging stations should also be set up in residential buildings and garages, as well as near workplaces. With the E-Control portal covering all public charging points, Austria is a pioneer, 113 operators are currently registered with 3,600 charging points (with almost 8,000 charging points).

The installed thermal power plant capacity in Austria has decreased from 7,768 megawatts (MW) by 1,380 MW since the beginning of 2016, at the same time the output for PV was doubled to 2,000 MW and for wind power it grew from 2,500 to 3,200 MW, according to Eigenbauer. Because of the security of supply, however, the caloric area cannot withdraw indefinitely. In 2030, 6,000 MW would be required calorically, even if these systems then only generate 10 TWh instead of 15 TWh per year. There is still 14,600 MW of hydropower available, storage power plants would have increased from almost 8,000 to 8,800 MW.

New board

Overall, the installed capacity in Austria is today 1,400 MW higher than five years ago. It now amounts to 26,187 MW and is distributed over more than 150,000 systems – 97 percent of which are small PV systems. Twenty years ago three quarters of all systems were hydropower plants, and there were about as many PV systems as thermal power plants. The costs for network stability have fallen in recent years despite the same quantities, which is a success story, according to Eigenbauer. In 2015, 143 million euros had to be spent on the entire control reserve, last year only around 44 million euros.

With the press conference, the E-Control executive duo Urbantschitsch / Eigenbauer took stock of their five-year term of office. Urbantschitsch will continue to be a member of the E-Control board, from March 24th together with the energy expert Alfons Haber.

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