Charging electric cars has recently become more expensive at many public charging stations. Now the Monopolies Commission has spoken out and has confirmed the price gouging. Above all, it calls for more competition – and more transparency in prices.
The prices for charging power have risen noticeably for some providers in the past few weeks. If you want to supply your electric car with new energy at public charging stations, you have to pay more at EnBW (emobility +), Maingau Energie (EinfachStromLaden), or Shell Recharge, for example. If numerous new fast-charging stations are to be built over the German network in the coming months, an upper price limit should ensure that prices do not explode. But they are already too high, criticizes the Monopolies Commission.
MORE COMPETITION AT CHARGING STATIONS IS NECESSARY
In its 8th energy sector report, the Monopolies Commission analyzes the competition in charging stations. And she comes to a clear conclusion. E-mobility in Germany can only be successful if there are low charging prices. And that is only possible with sufficient competition. An analysis of the data on around 42,000 charging points shows, however, that individual operators often control a high proportion of the charging points in individual regions.
A few alternative alternatives often result in “a not inconsiderable market power” of a locally dominant operator. And he can then dictate the prices on-site. It can be assumed that in such a case the provider in question would have the opportunity to raise conditions, especially the charging price, to a level that deviates significantly from the level that would arise in the event of effective competition.
The experts of the Monopolies Commission are also critical of the fact that drivers of electric cars at charging stations when charging their electric car without prior registration (so-called ad-hoc charging) are generally unable to find out about prices from the available providers. That prevents the use of targeted offers. In particular, newer charging points that are equipped with a large touchscreen would already be technically capable of displaying extensive price information.
MONOPOLIES COMMISSION CALLS FOR MORE TRANSPARENCY IN PRICES
In the opinion of the Monopolies Commission, the next federal government should promote competition in addition to building the charging infrastructure. This is because the subsidy programs provide for higher subsidies if the operators of the subsidized charging points in a local area account for less than 40 percent of all charging points. In the case of fast charging points on motorways, the possibility of operating charging points from different operators at one location should be created in the future. That also creates more competition. So far, only one charging station operator has often been active even at rest stops, although there would also be space for other providers.
A key recommendation also relates to the transparency of the prices valid at the charging points. Here the Monopolies Commission is calling for an overview similar to that provided by the market transparency office for fuels located at the Federal Cartel Office. Then, for example, drivers of electric cars could use an app to check which provider at a charging station is currently the cheapest. This app can also be used, for example, to query the occupancy status of the local charging stations. Many apps available today already offer such a function.
MONOPOLY COMMISSION HAS ONLY INDIRECT INFLUENCE
However, the critical words of the Monopolies Commission do not have any immediate effects. They only have a warning character. However, unlike the Federal Cartel Office or the Federal Network Agency, for example, the government advisors do not have any direct intervention options. However, the federal government must deal with the new report and take a position on it.