Austrian energy price hike reported as EU average drops

Consumer watchdogs are expected to launch another scathing attack at energy providers at it emerged that energy and gas became more expensive in Austria while prices declined on average in the European Union (EU).Eurostat, the European Commission’s (EC) statistics agency, announced today (Fri) that the average price for energy provided to EU households dropped by 1.5 per cent from the second half of 2008 to the same period of last year, whereas energy provided by Austrian companies soared by 7.7 per cent.Eurostat also said that gas became 1.5 per cent more expensive in the EU, adding that its price jumped by 0.7 per cent in Austria.Energy prices rose most dramatically in Poland with 18 per cent and Luxembourg with 17 per cent, while Cyprus and Italy registered the most significant declines with 20 per cent and 10 per cent respectively.Hungarian households had to pay 11 per cent more for gas in the second quarter of last year compared to the same period of 2008, while prices plunged by 29 per cent in Belgium.Verbund – one of Austria’s biggest energy providers – caused outcry by announcing a 12.3 per cent price hike for one kilowatt hour from 6.5 cent to 7.3 cent as of 1 May.Labour Chamber (AK) president Herbert Tumpel attacked the Vienna-based company for “putting new pressure on its customers”.Verbund earned 194.3 million Euros before interest and taxes (Ebit) in the first three months of this year, 24.1 per cent less than in the same period of 2009. Net profit plunged by 39.4 per cent to 119.8 million Euros.