2013 will see a significant increase in the surcharge stipulated by the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG) and paid by power consumers to promote the use of renewable energies. This will equate to a rise in the share of private households’ consumer spending on electricity from around 2.3 percent on average in 2011 or almost 2.4 percent in 2012 to almost 2.5 percent in 2013. The EEG surcharge accounts for 0.5 percentage points of this, or 0.6 percentage points including VAT. However, these proportions are significantly higher for low-income than for high-income households. DIW Berlin calculated the regressive distribution effects of rising electricity prices in general and the increasing EEG surcharge in particular on the basis of the Federal Statistical Office’s sample survey of income and expenditure (EVS) and the German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP) and extrapolated the results for 2013. The calculation indicates that households with the lowest income are especially adversely affected by the current price increases.
To compensate for the social hardship of rising electricity prices for low-income households, the existing benefit systems could be adapted to anticipate price increases. At the same time, low-income households could be supported with tailored advice and financial assistance to enhance the efficiency of their electricity use and to ensure a lasting reduction of electricity expenditure. Another option would be to reduce the electricity tax for a basic volume of power consumption. Even if all three options were pursued in parallel, costs for public budgets are in line with revenue from VAT on the EEG surcharge, which is expected to increase to around 1.4 billion euros in 2013.