“It must be worth saving”: what the new gas price brake must do

“It must be worth saving”
What the new gas price brake must achieve

A gas price brake is to come. Can citizens finally breathe a sigh of relief and turn on the heating? Not quite, says the head of the competent expert commission. Saving gas will have top priority. In addition, gas prices should be simple and fair at the same time.

The federal government is making 200 billion euros available, with which, among other things, gas prices for industry and households are to be curbed. A commission of experts headed by the economist Veronika Grimm is to present a proposal for the gas price brake, which, according to Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz, will then be implemented promptly. Shortly after the government’s announcement, Grimm outlined to the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung” what the focus of the commission will be: There will therefore not be a free ticket for citizens to heat up again without any worries.

“Incentives to save gas must have top priority. If there is a shortage of gas, then everyone has lost, whether with or without a gas price brake,” Grimm told the newspaper. An instrument will now have to be found that meets a number of requirements, explained the economist. “It has to be little bureaucratic and quick to implement.” In addition, the solution must be fair and provide strong incentives to save gas. “It should help for the communication of the measures and their acceptance if the various groups represented on the commission can contribute their perspectives,” Grimm continued. She described the traffic light government’s decision to cancel the gas levy as the “right way”.

Grimm said of the estimated sum of 200 billion euros: The sum is high, but you have to classify this against the background that it is about private households and companies. She also expected “that the gas crisis will last at least until spring 2024”. Until there is a proposal from the Gas Commission in two weeks, the concrete mechanisms of the price brake are of course open. The only thing that is clear so far is that at least part of the gas consumption should be capped in such a way that private households and companies are not overwhelmed.

Proposal for a half model from Lower Saxony

Lower Saxony’s Prime Minister Stephan Weil presented his own model for a gas price brake on Tuesday, which he wants to bring into the public debate. The SPD politician explained in the “Süddeutsche Zeitung” that his model provides for the consumption of the previous year to be taken as the basis for the calculations, since this is fixed for all consumers. According to Weil, half of the price increase should be borne by the state, the other half should be borne by consumers, who could then reduce their share by making savings themselves. The bonus should be credited to gas customers by their energy suppliers automatically and without further bureaucracy.

The Commission of Experts will also have to consider whether such a half-incentive model creates enough pressure on citizens. Because while the industry has apparently implemented the savings targets so far, the Federal Network Agency was dissatisfied with private households. In the past week, the consumption of households and small businesses was well above the average consumption of the corresponding weeks of the previous year, the authorities reported in Bonn. The numbers are “very sobering”.

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