Germany’s monopolies commission warns against market abuse amid energy crisis
Clean Energy Wire
The current price hikes on electricity and gas markets creates a real danger of market manipulation, the German Monopolies Commission – a permanent expert committee advising the government on areas of competition policy and regulation – has said in a policy brief on energy prices. Although the current price increases are primarily caused by supply issues and global influences on the wholesale market, the advisors say it is necessary to investigate whether there is also an element of big players abusing their market power and “emerging market dominance” on the primary electricity market. The policy brief mentions the case of German utility RWE, which has been found to be indispensable for meeting demand for increasingly longer periods of time. If any evidence of market dominance is found, an investigation by antitrust authorities should follow. For the power market, the Monopolies Commission also recommends supplementing the existing system of market monitoring with permanent or occasion-based screening. To better protect consumers, the government should revise the rules of the standard power supply contracts to create more transparency and choice for consumers.
The German government has announced a range of measures to dampen the negative effects of rising energy prices on households and businesses. Apart from one-time payments towards poor households’ heating bills, they are planning to end the renewables surcharge on power bills by this summer.