Even before the dramatic increase in energy prices as a result of the Ukraine war, the number of electricity and gas cutoffs due to unpaid bills had increased again.
Last year, the number of power cuts in Germany increased by a good two percent to around 235,000, according to figures for the new monitoring report by the Federal Network Agency and the Federal Cartel Office, which are available to the German Press Agency. The number of gas blockages even increased by around 12 percent to around 27,000. This means that around 0.4 percent of all electricity customers and around 0.2 percent of all gas customers in Germany were affected by delivery stops.
Energy costs could also lead to late payments in 2022
According to the authorities, there is still no data for 2022. However, the increase in energy costs in 2022 could mean that more electricity and gas customers default on their electricity and gas bills. This could ultimately lead to an increase in closures, it said.
The increase in the past year is therefore partly due to subsequent closures from 2020. Citizens who got into financial difficulties due to Corona temporarily had a so-called right to refuse performance in the first Corona year. Payments for electricity and other services of general interest had to be deferred. The majority of suppliers also voluntarily refrained from blocking their customers. In 2021, around half of the electricity and gas suppliers surveyed by the Federal Network Agency voluntarily refrained from blocking.
Strict regulations apply to the blocking of electricity and gas. In the basic service, a block may only be carried out if there is a delay in payment of two monthly payments and at least 100 euros. If no monthly payment has been agreed, the delay in payment must be at least one sixth of the expected annual amount. This now also applies to the gas sector, where there was previously no lower limit.
Concrete danger to life or limb Reason for inadmissibility
If a customer does not pay a due claim from his supplier, he first receives a reminder, which is subject to a fee. An interruption of the energy supply will be carried out at the earliest four weeks after the threat of the blocking. The specific date of blocking must be announced to the customer eight working days in advance.
Blocking is not permitted if it is disproportionate. This is particularly the case if there is a concrete danger to the life or limb of those affected. Last year, around 4 million electricity customers and around one million gas customers were threatened with being blocked.
The authorities intend to publish the 2021 monitoring report at the end of November.