Germany wants to reconsider gas surcharge after outcry over energy gains

Germany is trying to limit the companies that can benefit from a new gas levy to those who really need the support, with the scrutiny following an outcry about rising profits at some energy companies.

The government is levying the levy on consumers to fund aid for suppliers who are being forced to pay higher prices because Russia is squeezing gas supplies, but Economy Secretary Robert Habeck said he would look at ways to stop some gas importers from doing so to get help.

Germany initiated the plan over concerns that gas company failures could cause major disruptions in energy supplies to Europe’s largest economy. The move has sparked a political backlash, with some members of Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s governing coalition urging a rethink.

An additional tax for energy companies, whose profits have skyrocketed as a result of the crisis, is often demanded, but Finance Minister Christian Lindner rules this out.

Habeck said late Thursday it was “certainly not morally correct” for companies that have benefited from energy inflation to also seek government grants. Twelve companies initially submitted applications worth around 34 billion euros (33.9 billion US dollars), according to Trading Hub Europe, Germany’s gas market manager.

“I’m just saying, let’s take a look at it again,” said Habeck, according to excerpts from a speech in Münster late Thursday, which was published by the newspaper “Die Welt”.

“However, the hurdle is relatively high,” he warned. “If we start playing and that brings lawsuits – and there will certainly be lawsuits one way or another – and the levy is canceled, then we still have the same problem: some businesses and citizens will see a collapse in the gas supply. “

Saskia Esken, co-chair of Scholz’s SPD, said it was “unacceptable” that some gas suppliers who are not in financial difficulties are applying for help. In an interview with Deutschlandfunk on Friday, she described such companies as “free riders” and said changes in the levy were needed.

Lindner, who is also chairman of the pro-business Free Democrats, said in an interview with the public broadcaster ZDF late Thursday that the basic concept of gas sales is appropriate. However, individual companies should not benefit from this, he added.

“If it is necessary to change something to make this instrument more targeted for the benefit of consumers, then we are not afraid to make corrections,” said Lindner.

With effect from October 1st and the end of March 2024, the gas surcharge was set at 2.4 cents per kilowatt hour this month.

Energy utility Uniper SE and Securing Energy for Europe GmbH – formerly known as Gazprom Germania GmbH – are targeting 92 percent of the relief, a person familiar with the situation said this week. Both companies are recipients of government bailouts. RWE AG, which has submitted an application for aid, wants to forego the money because it is not heavily dependent on Russian gas.

“I’m just trying to be fair, but above all I have a duty to maintain security of supply in Germany – for better or for worse,” Habeck said, according to the world transcript. “We will see if we can find a legally secure way to prevent these companies from abusing the levy,” he added. Germany wants to reconsider gas surcharge after outcry over energy gains

Fry Electronics Team

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