Energy (electricity and gas) provision in Germany is shared by a mix of regional and national companies. Unlike the water supply system, the energy market has been private since the late 1990s, meaning you are free to choose your own supplier. Numerous companies compete to provide the best deals.
Gradually, however, consumers in Germany have begun to turn away from private energy companies. In many areas, such as Hamburg and Munich, power grids are being returned to public control. With less of an emphasis on profit, these municipal utilities tend to offer more stable rates and invest more in green technology.
Energy company comparison sites
With so many companies and packages on offer, it pays to shop around. If you’re unsure which supplier to go with, try using a comparison site like CHECK24 or Stromauskunft to help you find the best deal.
Energy companies in Germany
The following companies are some of the gas & electricity providers in Germany:
- Ostrom (Digital, 100% green & in English)
Setting up your energy supplier
If you are renting a house or apartment, gas and electricity are not usually included in the additional costs (Nebenkosten) but classed as separate utilities. Check your tenancy agreement if you are not sure what is included in your rent. Similarly, if you’ve bought a place, you will need to set up an account with an energy supplier. This is easy and can usually be done online. You may need the meter numbers displayed on your gas and electricity meters.
If you do not take out a contract with a supplier, you won’t be cut off, but instead, you will be automatically assigned a default type of contract called a “Grundversorgung”. While this ensures you an uninterrupted supply of electricity and gas, it rarely offers you good value for money. It, therefore, makes good financial sense to choose your own energy supplier.
Changing your energy supplier in Germany
Changing your energy supplier is a quick and easy process, as your new company will do most of the administration for you. All you need to do is select a new company and provide them with some details (usually including the details of your bank account, meter number and estimated usage). They will then contact your previous energy supplier to cancel your contract and set everything up in time to ensure a smooth transition.
Note that some energy suppliers, as well as internet providers, offer cheaper rates on the basis of a minimum contract period (Mindesvertraglaufzeit) of up to 24 months. Make sure before you change energy supplier that you are honouring the terms of your contract, including minimum and notice periods, otherwise you may be charged an early exit fee.
Green energy in Germany
In 2000, the federal government (Bundesregierung) announced its plans to phase out all nuclear power in Germany by 2021. The need for alternative sources of green energy has since led to a boost in funding for renewable sources. The target is for 80% of Germany’s energy to be renewable by 2080.
This means that many companies offer sustainable electricity (Ӧkostrom) and gas (Ӧkogas) generated from renewable sources such as solar and wind. Government subsidies mean that their prices are usually quite competitive.
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