Saving electricity is punished: basic prices should finally be abolished!

18.10.2022 | from Stiftung für Konsumentenschutz

Stiftung für Konsumentenschutz

18.10.2022, Whether "basic tariff", "fixed costs" or "network usage": Over 80% of electricity providers in Switzerland charge a basic price of up to 180 francs per year. These "poll taxes" flush millions into the coffers of the electricity companies, overpaid by small and frugal households. In view of the current austerity appeals, it is completely counterproductive that these basic prices should now be legally legitimized to increase. As a sensible alternative to the sometimes horrifically high basic tariffs, consumer protection calls for the introduction of the “basic tariff 500”.

Two surveys carried out by consumer protection show where and how high energy flat rates consumers have to pay: 80% of electricity companies charge a basic price, with the number of unreported cases being much higher. Only the power plants in the big cities do without flat rates. The other electricity providers charge up to CHF 180 per year and household. Sara Stalder, Head of Consumer Protection, states: "In a small household, the basic price can easily account for 50% of the electricity costs. The big price differences in a small area are incomprehensible. »

Consumer protection shield: "Basic tariff 500" instead of basic prices
Consumer protection therefore called on the Federal Council to launch a basic electricity tariff for everyone: each person should be able to purchase 500 kWh of electricity per year, the price of which is based on the production costs of Swiss electricity production. Stalder is convinced: "Instead of a poll tax, households in Switzerland need a reliable basic service. So that everyone has the opportunity to cook regularly, to store supplies in the fridge or to use communication channels without immediately getting into financial difficulties.»

Saving electricity is becoming a farce: large households and electricity companies are the beneficiaries
Basic prices disadvantage smaller, frugal households. You incur a large part of the electricity costs. This not only prevents polluter pays, but also torpedoes all efforts to save electricity, because efforts to save do little with this billing system on the electricity bill. Stalder comments: “Frugal households actually subsidize high-volume consumers. The beneficiaries of the whole system are the electricity companies, who fleece households with flat-rate prices.”

Electricity companies should soon be allowed to demand even higher basic prices
The basic prices are in fact regulated: According to the StromVV , the flat-rate basic prices must not exceed 30% of the costs for network use - calculated across the entire captive customer group of "basic customers". This is apparently enough for the high basic prices. In the revision of the Electricity Supply Act, the Federal Council now has the idea that these basic contributions can even be increased by the electricity companies. Stalder is concerned: “The Federal Council obviously accepts that consumers who purchase electricity sparingly have to pay a basic price of a few hundred francs. Electricity companies have been proving for many years that there is another way!»

What are base prices?
Theoretically, there are different basic prices: on the one hand they are charged for energy, on the other hand for network use or sometimes for both. In practice, however, it is hardly clear what is behind this: every electricity company justifies in its own way why flat-rate fees are charged. The arguments range from “network use”, “service flat rates” to “general advice”. For this reason, the basic prices have so far hardly been comparable across Switzerland: In the widely used electricity price calculator of the Electricity Commission (ElCom), the basic prices are even included in the electricity price per kWh. What all basic prices have in common, however, is that they work like poll taxes: Every household pays a basic fee regardless of actual consumption.

Sara Stalder, manager: 078 710 27 13
Marius Wiher, Head of Sustainability & Energy: 031 370 24 30

Note: This article was translated from German to English by an online translator.

--- END press release Saving electricity is punished: basic prices should finally be abolished! ---


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