Fast-track procedure: Energy suppliers are not allowed to increase prices for electricity and gas

Fast-track procedure: Energy suppliers are not allowed to increase prices for electricity and gas
Fast-track procedure: Energy suppliers are not allowed to increase prices for electricity and gas

There are energy suppliers who have offered their customers contracts with price guarantees in the past. Customers pay a slightly higher price for such contracts, but can thus protect themselves from rising purchase prices for electricity and gas, for example. But are energy suppliers still bound by the agreed price guarantees even in the current crisis caused by the war, or are they allowed to raise prices for their customers under such conditions? The District Court of Düsseldorf was the first court to rule on this controversial legal issue in a summary procedure dated August 26, 2022 (Az. 12 O 247/22), thereby strengthening the rights of consumers. In this article you can read what the case before the regional court was about and what the decision means for customers of energy suppliers.

NRW consumer advice center made an urgent application for a price increase

The energy supplier ExtraEnergie had offered contracts with a so-called limited price guarantee and marketed itself as a crisis-proof company. In such cases, price changes are only permissible because of increased taxes, duties or levies. A price adjustment due to rising costs for the procurement of energy is not possible according to the contractual agreements. However, the company had nevertheless announced price increases due to higher procurement costs, whereupon the NRW consumer advice center filed an urgent application with the Düsseldorf Regional Court.

Success for consumer advocates – district court prohibits price increase

The District Court of Düsseldorf has issued an injunction prohibiting the company ExtraEnergie GmbH from announcing price increases for electricity and gas due to rising procurement costs on the wholesale market if the contracts contain a price guarantee. According to the decision of the Düsseldorf Regional Court, the company must continue to supply its customers at the contractually agreed prices. According to the court, utilities cannot claim that the current war-related price development has disrupted the basis of their business.

What does the decision mean for consumers?

The district court’s decision is good news for consumers. Customers of ExtraEnergie GmbH, which also includes the brands “prioenergie” and “hitenergie”, are initially protected from impermissible price increases. However, the court decision is not yet final. The defendant company can still appeal against this. In addition to the urgent proceedings, the main proceedings are also running in parallel, which will be decided on in the near future. However, the case shows that it can be worthwhile for electricity and gas customers with a price guarantee in the contract not to accept the demanded price increases.

What is the best way for affected customers to do now?

The Verbraucherzentrale NRW advises customers with a price guarantee contract to object in writing to the required price increases and the associated adjustment of the General Terms and Conditions (GTC). The consumer advocates provide a sample letter for this purpose, which affected customers can use as a template. In addition, by September 1, 2022, customers should meter reading reading and documenting their gas meter and checking the incoming bill to see whether the contractually agreed prices have been complied with.

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The article is in German

Tags: Fasttrack procedure Energy suppliers allowed increase prices electricity gas

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