Network agency boss complains about too little competition | free press

Network agency boss complains about too little competition |  free press

The Federal Network Agency gets involved in the discussion about the high energy prices for households: the head of the authority, Klaus Müller, currently sees “no reasonable competitive model in the electricity and gas market”.


The President of the Federal Network Agency, Klaus Müller, complains that there is not enough competition in electricity and gas prices for household customers. In the comparison portals he sees that there are significantly fewer offers compared to the last few years, said Müller at an event organized by the Association of Business Journalists in Düsseldorf.

“There are municipal utilities that only concentrate on their supply area, they have withdrawn from nationwide supply,” he complained. “It is important to discuss what we can do to ensure that more market players, more energy suppliers also make offers nationwide beyond their own district and that I as a consumer have a choice here.”

Extreme market development since the Ukraine war

He doesn’t have a patent recipe. “I’m just offering you a description of the problem.” Many people have had a “modest experience” with a provider change in the last 18 months. In this context, he referred to numerous contract terminations by energy discounters.

The question arises: “Where are the competitive forces or the competitive players that will ensure that we will eventually see falling gas and electricity prices again?” There is no longer any authority in Germany that assumes this role.

Price supervision and approval have been abolished for good reasons and the Federal Network Agency is not at all “keen” to take on such a task. “But if no authority does that, and at the same time consumers have possibly learned in the last 18 months that the person who switches is possibly the stupid one, then we have a situation in which we don’t have a reasonable competition model in the electricity and gas market currently have.” It is long overdue to “discuss how we ensure that we come to reasonable competitive pressure so that prices can eventually fall again.”

Contradiction: Consequences of extreme market development due to war

The general manager of the municipal utility association VKU, Ingbert Liebing, contradicted Müller: “We do not have a structural competition problem, but are experiencing the consequences of extreme market development due to Russia’s war of aggression – the competition itself is not gone,” Liebing told the German Press Agency. Less competition is above all the result of a “drying out” of over-the-counter trading, in which the majority of the energy industry is active. “So far there has been no state aid here – in contrast to stock exchange trading, which the federal government supports with its 100 billion margining program.”

As a result of the sharp jumps and fluctuations in price, the public utilities are increasing the cost of interim financing and, in particular, the security deposits required. All of this ties up an enormous amount of liquidity, which is why many municipal utilities are concentrating on their core business: the long-term secure supply of their existing customers.

If the federal government would not only stabilize the stock exchange with its big players, but also over-the-counter futures trading with all its small and medium-sized providers and municipal utilities, it could even boost competition itself.”


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