HEIDELBERG/BONN (dpa-AFX) - Numerous basic suppliers have announced price reductions for electricity and gas for December and January. Millions of households are likely to benefit from this. The comparison portal Verivox reported on Tuesday that 83 price reductions averaging 12 percent had been announced for electricity so far. However, five suppliers have also announced increases, by an average of 2 percent.

According to Verivox, this results in a future average price in the local basic supply of a good 46 cents per kilowatt hour. By way of comparison, the electricity price brake, which the German government intends to apply until the end of April, caps the price at 40 cents. The comparison portal pointed out that electricity is currently available from 27 cents per kilowatt hour in alternative tariffs.

According to the comparison portal Check24, a total of 202 cases of electricity price reductions in the basic supply have been implemented or announced since the beginning of September.

Around one in four households on the classic basic supply tariff

The exact number of households affected by the price changes can only be approximated. According to Verivox, there are around 4.7 million households in the areas affected by the electricity price cuts. According to the Federal Network Agency, an average of 24% of all households in Germany received electricity via a basic supply tariff in 2021. More recent data is not yet available.

This would mean a good 1.1 million households that will soon have to pay an average of 12% less for electricity. According to the comparison portal, around 900,000 households live in the basic supply areas affected by electricity price increases. The basic supplier is always the energy supply company that supplies the most households in a grid area with electricity or gas. According to Verivox, there are 800 basic electricity suppliers nationwide.

99 basic gas suppliers want to cut prices

For natural gas, Verivox has so far registered 99 announced price reductions in the basic supply for December and January, by an average of 15 percent. According to the comparison portal, 9.5 million households live in the affected basic supply areas, of which on average every second household has a gas heating system. The basic supply rate for natural gas was also 24% in 2021.

There were also price increases here, with ten basic suppliers covering an area with around one million households. Verivox calculated a good 14 cents per kilowatt hour as the future average gas price in the basic supply. This figure is also above the gas price cap, which limits the price to 12 cents. The comparison portal pointed out that gas is currently available from 8.5 cents per kilowatt hour in alternative tariffs. According to Verivox, there are around 700 basic gas suppliers nationwide.

According to the comparison portal Check24, basic gas suppliers have lowered their prices or announced price reductions in a total of 279 cases since the beginning of September.

VKU: Regularly many price changes at the turn of the year

"The turn of the year is regularly a time when energy suppliers adjust their electricity or gas prices," explained a spokesperson for the municipal utilities association VKU (Verband kommunaler Unternehmen) in Berlin. This is due to changes in price components that cannot be influenced, such as grid and metering charges or statutory levies. "Even if the vast majority of municipal utilities carry out long-term, structured procurement, the result is that the level of customer tariffs differs."

The exact reasons for price adjustments are individual for each energy supplier. "The purchasing strategy plays an important role here - specifically, which volumes are purchased earlier or later." At present, the easing on the energy markets is gradually reaching customers. "The current price reductions are mainly based on the lower purchase prices compared to last fall and winter."

Basic suppliers still in a "strong position"

According to the Federal Network Agency, the basic electricity suppliers, which are often the municipal utilities, have a "strong position" in their respective supply areas: in addition to the 24% of households that were in the traditional basic supply in 2021, a further 37% of households were supplied via special contracts with the basic supplier. For gas, the proportion with special contracts with the basic supplier amounted to 41% - plus the 24% with traditional contracts.

While the prices in the classic basic supply are normally often higher than those of special contracts, the energy crisis last year created a special feature: "The prices of the basic suppliers were below the prices of the other types of contract," the Federal Network Agency stated on Monday. The agency sees this as the main reason for the significant drop in the number of household customers switching suppliers for electricity and gas.

Number of supplier changes fell during the energy crisis

The number of household customers switching electricity suppliers fell by around 16% to just over four million in 2022. Almost three million of these switches were not due to relocations. 8.2 percent of household customers changed their electricity supplier. In 2021, the rate was still 9.7 percent.

The number of household customers switching gas supplier fell by around a third to just under 1.2 million in 2022. Around 940,000 households switched outside of relocations. The switching rate was 8.9% (2021: 12.9%). According to the Federal Network Agency, the reasons for the drop in the switching rate for gas included the sharp fluctuations in wholesale gas prices, which at times exploded. General uncertainty regarding the security of supply also played a role./tob/DP/mis