Electricity watchdog challenges Germany's local e-car charging monopolies
Local electricity monopolies have so far prevented fair prices at electric vehicle charging stations in Germany, but that may soon change, Frank Dohmen and Simon Hage write in German weekly Der Spiegel. The Federal Network Agency (BNetzA) looks set to finally take action. Until now, e-car owners have had to navigate an often complex and nebulous system that includes a collection of charging apps, payment cards, hard-to-find stations, a lack of common standards and prices that are often difficult to determine, according to the report. The chaotic system can be attributed to the dominance of regional electricity providers, which years ago divided the charging station market among themselves, Dohmen and Hage say. With the government pushing for greater e-mobility across the country, the BNetzA is now looking to open up regional monopolies. In some metropolitan areas, such as Hamburg, Cologne and Essen, more than 80 percent of the charging points are owned by local utilities who only offer lower prices to registered customers. In an effort to solve the problem, the agency has launched a consultation process and issued a paper calling for changes, namely that electricity providers offer not just their own electricity, but also that of their competitors at their tariffs and conditions. In return, they would receive a reasonable fee for the use of their infrastructure from the rival companies.
The move would benefit customers, e-car manufacturers like BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen and also support government efforts to increase the number of e-cars on the road, which has recently seen a doubling of e-car buyer premiums from 3,000 to 6,000 euros as part of the government's economic coronavirus recovery programme.