17.06.2022, Thüringen, Weimar: Steffi Lemke (Bündnis90/Die Grünen), Bundesministerin für Umwelt, Naturschutz, nukleare Sicherheit und Verbraucherschutz, spricht während einer Pressekonferenz zum Abschluss der Verbraucherschutzministerkonferenz der Länder zu den Ergebnissen. Die Verbraucherschutzminister trafen sich am 16. und 17. Juni in Thüringen. Auf der Tagesordnung standen rund 60 Tagesordnungspunkte. Foto: Martin Schutt/dpa +++ dpa-Bildfunk +++

After the gas alert level was declared, Federal Consumer Protection Minister Steffi Lemke emphasized the priority given to certain parts of society when it came to supply.

“For me it is particularly important that in all stages of this emergency plan the supply of private households and social institutions such as hospitals is secured and they are particularly protected,” said the Green politician of the German Press Agency. “For the federal government, it is crucial that the energy supply in Germany remains secure.”

After the drastic reduction in gas supplies from Russia as a result of the Ukraine war, the government declared the alarm level in the so-called gas emergency plan on Thursday. The plan has three levels: early warning, alert and emergency. The alert level indicates a disruption in supply or exceptionally high demand that results in a significant deterioration in supply. However, the market is still able to cope with this.

Lemke called the corresponding classification by Economics Minister Robert Habeck (also Green) a “hard but right decision”. The minister also supported Habeck’s appeal to save energy. “Everyone is required here: companies, public institutions as well as private households.”

The President of the Federal Network Agency, Klaus Müller, believes it is possible for consumer prices for gas to triple. “If you extrapolate it, it depends a lot on how you heat, how your building is constructed. But the previous gas bill can triple,” said Müller to the broadcasters RTL/ntv.

That is why Müller called for energy saving. “Everyone in industry and privately can contribute to this – and yes, that includes the sweater, the shower head, turning the heating down a bit, all of that helps,” he said on Friday in the ARD “Morgenmagazin”. Citizens should save money and talk to the landlords towards the fall. “Now there is still something you can do.”

Habeck appealed to the solidarity of citizens to save energy: “People shouldn’t have to ask themselves what they’re getting, they should do it because they feel like living in this country, because they feel proud and happy about it others to do.”

He even mentioned specific ways in which energy could be saved. “It makes sense to carry out a hydraulic balancing of the heating system in summer so that the heat is better distributed – this saves around 15 percent in energy and costs. And turning down one degree in winter brings another 6 percent less,” Habeck told the “Spiegel”. “With 41 million households, these small things become something big.”

In the RTL night journal, Habeck had said that the “price wave” was “in fact no longer averted”. When asked if he was concerned that Russia would stop supplying gas after a maintenance interval on the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline scheduled for mid-July, he said: “I would be lying if I said I wasn’t afraid.”

In the ZDF “heute journal” he said that by gradually reducing gas exports, Russian President Vladimir Putin was pursuing the plan to keep prices high in Germany and Europe “in order to increase social unrest”. The measures taken by the federal government should also serve the unity of society. “Putin wants our country to disintegrate. But we don’t disassemble ourselves,” Habeck told the “Spiegel”.

Federal Network Agency boss Müller also considers the complete cessation of gas deliveries by Nord Stream 1 to be possible. “We cannot rule it out,” he said in the ARD “Morgenmagazin”. That is why the Federal Network Agency calculated various scenarios. “Most scenarios are not nice and mean either too little gas at the end of winter or – very difficult situation – in autumn or winter.”

“We are already where Germany has never been,” Habeck told Der Spiegel. “It will definitely be scarce in the winter.” If there is not enough gas, certain industrial sectors that require gas would have to be shut down.

From his point of view, the consequences would be that companies would stop their production, their workers would have to be laid off and supply chains would collapse. As a result, people would go into debt to pay their heating bills. The Economics Minister held out the prospect of further relief, but gave no hope of being able to “catch everything”.

Rising energy costs are also causing concern among tenants. The President of the German Tenants’ Association, Lukas Siebenkotten, told the editorial network Germany (RND): “We are calling for a moratorium on termination that ensures that no one may be terminated who cannot pay their utility bills on time due to sharply increased heating costs.

The Greens member of the Bundestag and former Verdi boss Frank Bsirske is in favor of a gas price cap. “We need further relief, focused on lower and middle incomes, because they are most affected by price developments,” Bsirske told the newspapers of the editorial network Germany (RND) on Friday.

“So a gas price cap would make sense to cover basic needs. This would allow consumption to be controlled at the same time. So there would be an ecological steering effect,” said Bsirske.

The general manager of the Paritätischer Wohlfahrtsverband, Ulrich Schneider, called on the federal governments to start “preparations for long-term aid” immediately in view of fears of further increases in gas prices. “Waiting and then talking about something like the tank discount again is really absurd,” he told the RND newspapers.

The discussion about the impending shortage of gas is also about another form of energy, namely nuclear power. In the ZDF program “Maybrit Illner”, the head of the FDP and Federal Finance Minister Christian Lindner addressed the nuclear issue: “I would also be willing to discuss in Germany whether to continue using our remaining nuclear power plants for a while – to use everything to to reduce prices.”

The network agency boss Müller thought little of it. “We don’t have a power shortage, we have a problem with gas,” said the former Green politician. “Nuclear power plants don’t produce heat, they don’t heat homes, they produce electricity.” It’s about procuring gas. The FDP politician Lindner reiterated his point of view: “Even against the background of the affordability of energy and our climate goals, it makes sense to talk about nuclear energy.”

The economic wing of the CDU had previously asked Federal Minister Habeck to agree to a longer term for the remaining three nuclear power plants in Germany. Before companies were shut down, the federal government had to jump over their shadow, said the chairwoman of the SME and Economic Union (MIT) of the CDU, Gitta Connemann, the dpa.

The heating period begins in twelve weeks, warned the member of the Bundestag Connemann. “Now there must be no more taboos.” Habeck should not explain, but he must act.