As far as climate protection in the country is concerned, the EEG law on green electricity is a unique achievement. He only made sun, wind and co. Competitive with the competition from fossil fuels that had long been dampened: those who invested in alternative energies could count on fixed rates of remuneration for each kilowatt hour. Everything was financed by the community of electricity customers – with which the whole mechanism was torn from the inconstancy of households. Without this law, renewable energies would not have triumphed in this country. This triumphant breakthrough has literally its price: last year alone, around 24 billion euros were collected from electricity customers via the “EEG tax”. If the federal government hadn’t added anything, it would have been even more.
But the days of the levy, it seems, are numbered – and there is a lot to be said about it. Economy Minister Peter Altmaier (CDU) wants to abolish it completely, SPD chancellor candidate Olaf Scholz wants to relieve families by lowering it, and it is too high for the Greens. And in the logic of climate-friendly renovation, there are some arguments in favor of this approach.
Because this restructuring of the economy is moving to other areas, and one of the keys could be the green electricity that the eco-law first pushed into the market: electric cars compete with fossil burners , heat pumps against oil and gas heating, hydrogen produced from electricity, for example against coke in steel production. They all have one thing in common: the more expensive the electricity, the faster the regenerative variant can establish itself. And because private households bear the brunt of the billions, the relief is most notable for them – and with it the incentive to switch to climate-friendly alternatives.
The time to change course is good. With the economic recovery, the exchange prices of electricity have also increased. This reduces the cost of subsidizing green electricity. Because the more expensive green electricity can be sold, the less funding must be added to achieve the promised fixed remuneration. In addition: in the coming years, more and more factories will lose their right to financing. It was limited to 20 years. But the highest funding commitments come from the infancy of EEG, the early 2000s. What the public sector needs to raise to free citizens from the EEG burden will therefore tend to decline over the next few years.
There is relief, but hardly anyone notices
This is offset by the increase in revenue from the price of CO₂. As early as 2019, in the mediation committee, the Bundestag and the Bundesrat had agreed to devote additional income to the reduction of the EEG surcharge – and thus to distribute it to consumers. The surtax on fuel oil and fuel oil, according to the calculation, can indirectly help to turn our backs precisely on these climatic pests. And above all, large households recover a large part of what they pay for heating or driving with the price of CO₂ by reducing electricity costs: climate protection with a reimbursement guarantee.
The only problem is that no one notices it.
Because as easy as it is to redistribute funds via the electricity bill, it also flows. Very few households study their electricity bills and record what is returned to them in the form of a decreasing mark-up. In contrast, each gas station has a higher CO₂ price in the form of higher fuel prices, in very large numbers. The yellow vests are not far away.
So if you want to persuade citizens to add a steadily increasing fossil fuel surcharge, you will have to come up with even more direct forms in order to allow them to participate in the increase. Switzerland shows how this can work: it reimburses part of the income from its “incentive tax” directly to citizens. And clean alternatives can also be promoted more directly and more precisely, whether through recharging infrastructure or clean heating funds. Lowering EEG overload can only be a first step. But it was also the whole law once: a beginning.