September 22 (Reuters) – European households face much higher energy bills this winter due to a global spike in wholesale electricity and gas prices and consumer groups have warned that most vulnerable people in the region could be affected by a fuel shortage as a result. Read more
European benchmark gas prices have climbed around 280% so far this year, due to low inventory levels, strong demand in Asia, high carbon prices and blackouts.
Governments across Europe are under pressure to cut energy bills to help families and small businesses as economies slowly emerge from the coronavirus pandemic. Here are some of the measures that countries are considering:
EU energy ministers meet on September 22 to discuss soaring prices in Europe, while a group of lawmakers have called on the European Commission to investigate the role of Russian company Gazprom ( GAZP.MM), claiming that the company’s behavior made them suspect market manipulation.
In response, Gazprom says it supplies gas to its customers in full compliance with existing contracts. Read more
An EU official told national ministers on September 22 that the bloc’s executive arm was working on options to help member states manage record electricity prices.
The French government announced on September 15 its intention to make a one-time payment of 100 euros ($ 118) to the 5.8 million households that receive energy coupons. Read more
Some 310,000 German households are facing an 11.5% increase in their gas bills, according to data as of September 20, while energy experts have warned that some suppliers could become insolvent due to record high tariffs. Read more
Germany sees no need for government intervention to counter rising gas prices, an Economics Ministry spokesperson said on September 22.
Germany does not have a price cap for utilities. Its 41.5 million homes buy their energy from a thriving but mostly unsupervised retail sector that has been liberalized to create choice and dismantle monopolies.
The Bundesnetzagentur (BNetzA), the country’s regulator, said it was not responsible for monitoring sourcing strategies or pricing mechanisms at suppliers.
Greece announced on September 14 its intention to offer subsidies to the majority of Greek households by the end of the year. This would include a â¬ 9 subsidy for the first 300 kilowatt-hours consumed per month, higher one-off payments to low-income people and larger discounts from the country’s main state-owned company.
Italy will introduce short-term measures, which could amount to some 3 billion euros, to offset the expected rise in retail electricity prices and is working on longer-term reform of electricity bills, announced on September 16 its Minister for Energy Transition. read more
Portuguese Minister of the Environment Joao Matos Fernandes said at a press conference on September 21 that electricity prices for domestic consumers on the regulated market would remain stable in 2022.
Spain urged the EU on September 20 to develop guidance for its member states and suggested measures to limit speculators in the carbon market and build up gas reserves. Read more
“We urgently need a preconceived European political menu to immediately react to dramatic price spikes,” said Economy Minister Nadia Calvino and Energy and Environment Minister Teresa Ribera in a statement. document sent to the Commission.
Spain’s proposals also call for the establishment of a centralized European platform for the purchase of gas.
The week before, Spain had taken emergency measures to cut bills by redirecting â¬ 2.6 billion in extraordinary profits from energy companies to consumers and capping increases in gas prices.
Britain is considering offering state loans to energy companies that take on clients of companies that go bankrupt due to soaring wholesale natural gas prices, Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said on September 21. . read more
The unprecedented rise in wholesale prices will force more UK energy suppliers to close their doors and the industry must brace for prolonged pain, energy officials and the Minister for Business said on September 22. read more
The country’s energy regulator Ofgem raised the cap on most used tariffs from 12% to 13% from October, after raising it in April due to high wholesale costs. Read more
Compiled by Tommy Lund, Sarah Morland and Dagmarah Mackos Editing by Nina Chestney and Mark Potter
Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.