Before winter, there are increasing voices calling for the so-called energy price brakes to be extended. The German Federation of Trade Unions advocated maintaining and extending the electricity price cap beyond the end of the year.

The Federal Association of Consumer Organizations called for all price controls to be extended until Easter 2024. “In this way, private households would be protected from further price increases for electricity, gas and district heating in the coming winter,” explained chairwoman Ramona Pop.

With the electricity and gas price brakes, the price for a large part of the consumption of private households is capped. The upper limit of the price brake is 40 cents per kilowatt hour for electricity and 12 cents per kilowatt hour for gas.

Skepticism in the Union

The price brakes are effective for the entire year 2023. An extension until April 2024 is possible according to the law. Federal Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) has already spoken out in favor of the extension. According to him, discussions are ongoing with the EU Commission. While the coalition partner SPD supports this, the opposition Union is skeptical.

“The gas price brake is an important instrument to protect people from the hardships of the energy crisis,” argued economist Veronika Grimm in favor of an extension. “It is still unclear for next winter whether there will be an increase in gas and electricity prices again,” said the scientist, who is one of the so-called economic experts as a member of the Advisory Council, to the “Rheinische Post”.

The DGB and the trade union-affiliated Hans Böckler Foundation spoke out in favor of extending the electricity price cap until a maximum of 2030. This would prevent the economy from suffering serious damage. The foundation said the switch to climate-friendly production methods could be secured. It proposes a net electricity price of 10 cents per kilowatt hour for small and medium-sized companies and 6 cents for energy-intensive companies, minus another cent for companies subject to tariff agreements.

“The electricity price brake works, but not sufficiently, and must therefore be extended and adapted to the current challenges,” said DGB boss Yasmin Fahimi on Wednesday, according to the announcement. There must also be a temporary, competitive electricity price for the energy-intensive industry. Such an industrial electricity price would protect hundreds of thousands of well-paid, collectively agreed jobs.

Moderate costs for the state

According to calculations by the Ifo Institute, the gas price brake alone cost the state around 13 billion euros by the summer. But three times as much was expected. However, gas prices have now fallen significantly. Many consumers have now secured contracts with tariffs that are below the price limit of 12 cents per kilowatt hour until next year.