Discussions about gas supply in the event of a gas shortage are increasing. Actually, the situation is clearly defined in the Emergency Plan Gas of the Federal Ministry of Economics. However, several industry representatives have already spoken out in favour of an amendment to the emergency plan that would put industrial enterprises on an equal footing with private households. A new variant is now coming into play from the Federal Network Agency. According to this, the Federal Network Agency wants to auction off the gas procurement rights to the highest bidder in the event of a shortage.
Gas emergency plan – industry first to be cut off from supply
The current gas emergency plan stipulates that in the event of a gas shortage, industrial plants are to be shut down first, while private households, hospitals and other social institutions have priority. To this end, the Federal Network Agency first wanted to compile a database of industrial enterprises and their consumption. However, the network agency did not want to rank in advance the order in which the industrial enterprises should be disconnected from the supply in an emergency. The Federal Network Agency wanted to decide this separately for each individual case when the emergency occurred. This is a procedure that can only go wrong in the event of an acute gas shortage, because thousands of companies would be affected and a decision may have to be made within a few hours.
Industry wants change in switch-off strategy
In recent weeks, the industry has demanded a change in the emergency plan. According to industry representatives, industrial companies should be put on an equal footing with private households. Now the head of the Federal Network Agency, Klaus Müller, is bringing a new variant into play. He wants to auction off the rights to purchase gas in an emergency to the highest bidder.
Grid agency proposes to auction off gas in an emergency
Müller refers to the auction model for the coal phase-out. This would have achieved the most efficient shutdown of power plants with economic incentives. Müller wants to let the market decide. In his opinion, the companies themselves know better than the state where energy can be saved most efficiently. Müller is reacting to reactions from industry. Several sectors, from the chemical industry to agriculture, wanted the Federal Network Agency to give them a higher priority when the third stage of the emergency plan comes into force. Karl-Ludwig Kley, the head of the Eon supervisory board, had even demanded that industry be given priority over private households, even if people had to freeze in their homes in winter.
Is the network agency trying to get out of its responsibility?
Müller obviously already suspects that the Federal Network Agency will be hopelessly overstretched when the emergency stage occurs. With the auctioning of gas purchase rights, the grid agency itself would not have to decide on shutdowns. Gas goes to whoever pays the most for it. Those who cannot afford it will be left behind. Gas prices will rise even further as a result.