The electricity suppliers in Germany threaten millions of households every year with turning off their electricity. In most cases it doesn’t get that far – but the number of power cuts is increasing.

If the electricity meter stops rotating, the payer is in default.

WDue to unpaid bills, almost 344,000 households in Germany were cut off last year. That was about 14,000 more power cuts than in 2016, as can be seen from the draft of the Federal Network Agency’s new monitoring report on the electricity market. Most of the locks were in North Rhine-Westphalia with around 98,000. The draft report has been submitted to the German Press Agency.

Last year, utilities threatened a power cut to a good 4.8 million defaulting payers. A good 7 percent of them, the electricity was actually turned off. “There is a presumption that a threat of blocking leads to payment in many cases,” the report said. In addition, reference is made to the high expenditure of time and money when a ban must be enforced in court.

The supplier may only interrupt the power supply if the customer is in default of at least 100 euros and after he has received a reminder with the threat of blocking. Before the electricity is actually turned off, the supplier must give the consumer a corresponding notice and give him one last opportunity to pay. Both the reminder and the blocking and unblocking of a power connection cost additional fees.

The number of households that changed their electricity supplier last year grew only minimally – by around 17,000 to just under 4.7 million. The number of changers who looked for a new supplier without moving fell by as much as 70,000 to 3.5 million. According to calculations by the network agency, an average household customer could save 85 euros a year when switching providers. More than two thirds of households are still supplied by the local basic supplier.