Gas contingency plan: ‘No right for 25 degrees’

Status: 05/10/2022 1:20 PM

According to the gas emergency plan, the supply of homes will continue in the event of a halt in Russian delivery. Then the Ministry of Economic Affairs wants to be able to step in with regulations – and is now debating what consumers are still entitled to.

In the event of a gas supply emergency, the federal government wants to be able to respond with the help of decrees and thus complete the gas emergency plan. This plan is not based on a permanent gas shortage, said Secretary of State for the Federal Ministry of Economics, Patrick Greichen, at the “Handelsblatt annual meeting in Stadwerk 2022”. This should be discussed again – but this does not mean that the order of care should be different.

“Protected customers remain protected customers. The question is: What is the protected customer entitled to?” It must be added. “Of course, the houses are provided with heating, but there is no right in 25 degrees, only 20 or 19.” The real question, said Greichen, is how to implement such regulation.

The Secretary of State cited state interventions such as the communication restrictions in the Corona Lockdown, which the police cannot monitor – and which most people still adhere to. So I think we will have to put in place the appropriate rules in such an emergency.”

About 20 million gas-heated homes

Private consumers do not have to worry about their gas interruptions: according to the current legal situation, home deliveries are specially protected. Experts estimate that about 20 million apartments in Germany are heated by gas. Hospitals and other social institutions enjoy the same privilege when it comes to gas supply.

More gas can be supplied with industrial consumers – especially the chemical industry, but also manufacturers of paper, cement or glass need gas in large quantities. So industry associations have already called for the emergency gas supply to be reorganized, that is, to choke private homes and continue to supply the industry.

The network agency must decide

The gas contingency plan provides for three phases. In light of the impending Russian halt in deliveries, the federal government has already announced the first phase, the early warning phase. At the last level, the emergency level, the state will have to intervene. It will then be possible to extinguish industrial customers while private homes are under protection.

Last year, half of Germany’s gas needs came from Russian production – the other half was mainly covered by Norway and the Netherlands, and there are also some smaller domestic gas reserves. If Russian natural gas stops flowing through pipelines to Germany in the short term, the consequences will be dire. Gas should be rationed in this country very soon. The Federal Network Agency will then determine who gets the gas and who doesn’t.

Rising gas costs lead to inflation

Therefore, the Bonn Authority is currently asking all industrial companies how much gas they need and whether they can switch to other energies. Only then can a priority list be drawn up for the day when there should really be a shortage of gas.

Without gas, there is a risk of production disruption and significant property damage in the industry: for example, the multimillion-dollar glass melting tank, which is used to manufacture car windows, cools without gas and is a case of scrap in a matter of hours. High gas costs are already making sure that the industry, in turn, must raise prices: synthetic fertilizers, tires, champagne glasses – everything is getting more expensive. The war in Ukraine drives inflation.

With information from Lothar Lenz, ARD Capital studio.

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