Energy prices continue to explode and are slowly reaching consumers. The additional costs for the Germans already exceed the value of the largest bank in the Federal Republic. Can the electricity price brake and excess profit tax be the way out of the crisis?

Thorsten Storck, energy expert at the price comparison portal “Verivox” calculates in the “Bild am Sonntag”: In 2021, gas will cost an average of 6.56 cents per kWh. It is now 13.52 cents. With 297 billion kilowatt hours consumed in Germany each year, this amounts to 46.1 billion euros. A drastic difference to the costs of the previous year, which were 26.6 billion euros.

As a comparison: the additional costs are higher than the education budget of the Federal Republic. Or even higher than the value of Deutsche Bank.

Federal Economics Minister Robert Habeck is also aware of the exploding costs for consumers. He also sees major additional burdens on the Germans beyond the planned gas levy. In the case of gas alone, “four-digit numbers” can be expected, which people will have to manage on average in the coming months, Habeck said in an interview with the ARD and ZDF youth service Funk.

There is also a risk that electricity prices will double, said Habeck. “If we’re good, we’ll reform the system now and prevent exactly that,” explained the minister, alluding to the federal government’s plans to introduce an electricity price brake.

Because of the exploding energy prices, including electricity, the traffic light coalition has decided on a relief package worth 65 billion euros. One of the measures it contains is said to be an electricity price brake. In addition, sales tax on all gas consumption will be reduced from 19 to seven percent by the end of March 2024 to compensate for the gas surcharge.

In addition to the federal government, the federal states should also participate in the relief package. A dispute has broken out between the federal and state governments over funding, and individual states are threatening blockades in the Bundesrat.

The relief packages are good, but “I’m afraid they won’t be enough,” says Gerd Landsberg from the German Association of Towns and Municipalities. He called on the federal government to introduce a general brake on gas and electricity prices based on the Czech model Landsberg told the broadcaster SWR News that the state had to guarantee a low price for basic needs during the crisis.

At EU level, too, consideration is being given to how to relieve consumers in the energy crisis. On Wednesday, Ursula von der Leyen’s EU Commission presented a legislative proposal for excess profit taxes for energy companies, which are currently making comparatively large amounts of money. As a result, around 140 billion euros are to be skimmed off and passed on to consumers. Economics Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz also advocates a tax on the so-called excess profits of energy companies and the redistribution of tax revenues to “those who suffer”.

The aim of the EU Commission is also a complete reform of the European electricity market. The problem at the moment is that the electricity price is linked to the gas price, which is very high at the moment because of the Russian crisis: