Wed Oct 12th, 2005 at 05:53:16 AM EST
Last month, I analysed electricity price developments in Germany after market liberalisation1, which showed that deregulation won't make electricity cheaper on the medium to longer term - and that major grid operators will spin the statistics in all possible ways to shroud the truth2.
Now, as prices climbed further, they did something I thought would be the next logical step - but I didn't believe they'll dare to be this dishonest...
To recap, one of the price indices I analysed was the electricity bill of a standard home3. This is calculated every year by the German Association of the Electricity Industry (VDEW), which represents the traditional producers and grid-owners. Here is again its development through deregulation (since March 1998, with a Q1 estimate for 2005):
In its press releases, VDEW always emphasized the increase of the state part: taxes, feed-in tariff for regenerative energy. (This already contained a trick: for the consumer, only the part of feed-in tariffs exceeding market prices are extra costs, not all of it. I.e., the "netto" price is in truth the share of the large grid owner, not what it would be without state-mandated 'surcharges'.)
Now, in October, VDEW normally releases its second estimate for the running year - a text invariably pointing the blame for brutto price increase at the state-mandated parts, followed by a table with the netto and brutto electricity bill and various components, which at least the alert spin-resistant reader could analyse on her own. Not this time.
Instead, they released data only on the state-mandated part - without giving the brutto or netto bill! And if you think that's dishonest, wait for the second trick! The brutto price could be calculated from the VAT. But to prevent that, and to make the increase of the state-mandated part even more dramatic, they just dropped the VAT part! (In fact, they didn't even presented the figures for an average home, just the sum totals - but I'm not sure how that skews things.)
Thus they got an increase (from 1998) of 433%, instead of - I can only estimate - around 60%...4
Finally, one more little spin in the text is comparing with 1998 prices. The core price is about the same, the state part grew, voilą, blame it all on the State! However, the increase consumers feel is not the slow climb of the state part, but the faster rise in the core part since 2001 (when the large producers, having eliminated the upstarts in price wars, started the climb back).
- I was supplementing a diary by Jérôme with general arguments against electricity deregulation.↑
- In a related issue, I also wrote about the shameless spinning of statistics behind the claim of Germany's supposed dependence on French nuclear energy imports.↑
- A standard suitable in West Europe: usage patterns of 3 persons, total yearly consumption of 3500 kWh; actual numbers released are for one month, averaged over the full year.↑
- While state-mandated surcharges moved up from around 24% to c. 38% of the brutto price, note that just a few years prior to 1998, it was above 30% too: one tax type was eliminated 1996.↑