Bundesnetzagentur boss Müller: “The era of cheap energy from Russia is over”

Status: 03/18/2023 2:28 p.m

Although the price of gas has fallen significantly, most households have not. Network agency boss Müller estimates that it will take up to a year for consumers to benefit from the price reductions.

The head of the Federal Network Agency, Klaus Müller, expects that it will be months before the falling wholesale prices for electricity and gas reach consumers. He assumes that households will only be able to benefit from the cuts in six to twelve months, Müller told the “Rheinische Post”. That would depend on the term of the contracts and the purchasing strategy of the company.

However, according to the head of the network agency, energy prices will no longer be as low as they were before the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine. “We have to get used to higher prices, the era of cheap energy from Russia is finally over,” he explained.

The wholesale prices for gas, which were over 300 euros per megawatt hour in late summer, have fallen to around 50 euros. That is far more than in 2021, but the new normal. Persistently higher prices required companies to become more efficient. “A lot of progress has been made here. The companies will have to keep making efforts,” said the head of the authority.

Special Right of Termination for Consumers

“We get a lot of complaints from consumers who criticize the high prices of their utility,” said Mueller. Consumers would have a special right of termination if prices were increased. If companies violate the rights of consumers, the Federal Network Agency can take action. The Federal Cartel Office monitors that suppliers do not abuse the price brakes.

Müller ruled out a gas shortage in the next few weeks: “The gas storage tanks are 64 percent full. Even if it gets really cold again in the next few weeks, the supply is secured thanks to the storage tanks.” But you shouldn’t rest on your laurels, emphasized Müller: “It may look different next winter.”

Risk factors are that the winter of 2023/24 will be very cold, households and companies will not save enough energy and the LNG terminals will not work as planned.

The price brake has been in effect since March

The price of natural gas has been in a continuous downward trend since December. The comparatively well-filled natural gas storage facilities are one of the main reasons for this. In the first week of March, the price for the trend-setting TTF futures contract for delivery in one month fell to EUR 42.50 per megawatt hour (MWh).

European natural gas was cheaper previously in August 2021. Most recently, the price was just over 43 euros. Since the beginning of March, the government price brakes, worth billions, have also been in effect to curb energy costs. There is also retrospective relief for January and February. How high the relief is depends on the respective consumption and tariff.