Energy discount in eastern Austria

Three leading electricity providers have reduced their prices.

The Austrian Energy Alliance – the distribution agency of Vienna’s Wien Energie, Lower Austrian company EVN AG and Eisenstadt-based BEWAG – said yesterday (Weds) it reduced the price for one kilowatt hour (KWh) of electricity by 3.3 per cent at the beginning of this month. The decrease means customers of the companies have to pay 1.6 per cent less since other charges weakened the discount.

The announcement comes just days after Vienna-based economic research group WIFO called for a reform of energy sector regulations. The agency said lawmakers should allow more competition in the country. Such a step may have immediate effects on the development of the inflation, according to WIFO.

Soaring electricity, gas and mineral oil prices have been a key force behind Austria’s high inflation in the past months. Two-digit price hikes for energy sector products and services put the country’s citizens under immense pressure. Hundreds of thousands of needy Austrians decided not to heat their homes in the past weeks over fears of being unable to afford it, according to charity and non-profit organisations.

The average price level for all kinds of products and services on offer in the alpine country rise by 3.6 per cent from November 2010 to the same month of last year. The Austrian inflation rate was 3.4 per cent in October. WIFO said the annual inflation would range around two per cent this year due to the slow growth of the domestic and European economy. Last year’s price developments meant that the Austrian inflation was above the European average for a third year in a row.

Electricity and car petrol price hikes have been a big burden for Austrians in the past months. However, foodstuff prices also rose dramatically. Dairy products cost seven per cent more in October 2011 than in the same month of 2010 while meat prices shot up by four per cent. Non-alcoholic drinks became almost eight per cent dearer. The price for coffee rose by 24 per cent.

News that many households in Vienna, Lower Austria and Burgenland have to pay less for electricity this month than in December 2011 follows a report about a 12.6 per cent fee increase for Austrian homes in November. The Austrian Energy Agency said on Tuesday that an average household had to pay 12.6 per cent more for the same amount of electricity and gas that month than in November 2010.

Heating oil cost 25.5 per cent more, according to the agency which also takes car fuel prices into account. The organisation added that diesel petrol prices rose by 21.6 per cent. The price for gas climbed by 13.4 per cent while electricity prices remained stable on average in Austria from November 2010 to the same month in 2011.