Can someone tell if you can unlock it

Power cut - what now?

When can the utility switch off the electricity?

Your supplier can disconnect the electricity or gas from as little as 100 euros in arrears. Before that, however, he must comply with certain legal requirements. He may impose an energy lock if

  • he threatens the ban four weeks in advance,
  • announces the execution of the block three working days in advance,
  • the consumer has not paid at least an amount of 100 euros and
  • the ban is proportionate or
  • the consumer does not offer the energy supplier the prospect of meeting his payment obligations.

In the case of the young mother, the final letter with the threat of blocking came in the mail on Friday afternoon. She was supposed to pay 1,000 euros by Monday morning; the unpaid discounts had added up to this amount without her knowledge. But she couldn't find that much over the weekend.

Are there any special regulations due to the current corona pandemic?

There was a statutory exception that was supposed to help financially strained private households in the corona pandemic. But it expired on June 30th. You can therefore no longer rely on the right to refuse performance. The monthly electricity and gas discounts as well as the costs for water, telephone and internet now have to be paid regularly and punctually again.

And: Anyone who has been granted a deferred payment in the months of April to June must Now compensate for any arrears at the supplier. Basically it should in a sum happen. If this presents you with difficulties, the consumer advice centers advise you to contact the utility company as soon as possible: the sooner the energy supplier learns of the payment problems, the better the chances of finding a joint solution. Under no circumstances should you ignore payment reminders or reminders!

You can choose your utility company different proposals do:

  1. Installment payment: Anyone who cannot settle outstanding bills in one fell swoop should ask for payment in installments.
  2. Temporary increase in discounts: A temporary increase in the discount can reduce the sum of the arrears.
  3. Deferral: In the case of foreseeable temporary payment problems, a deferral can be negotiated until the next annual statement. A good alternative, for example, for people who are on short-time work or are currently receiving sick pay.
  4. Loan: Those who receive social benefits can borrow money from the job center or the social welfare office to pay off their energy debts. Those affected can apply for such a loan informally.

And: Find help. Support in all the necessary steps is available from many consumer advice centers, lawyers and other debt advisors.

Note: You can find all of our information for consumers in Corona times on our overview page on the subject.

How can I protect myself from payment arrears and a power cut?

Pay your haircuts regularly and on time. Because if payment arrears arise, your energy supplier is entitled to stop supplying energy. Payments for electricity, heating and rent should therefore always have priority for you. In general, these payments must be made before all other bills.

  • Consumers who receive services from the job center or social welfare office can also have their deductions transferred directly from the social service provider to the energy supplier. Good to know: You can submit an informal application directly to the relevant authority.
  • Get an overview of your household finances and make sure that your expenses do not exceed your income.
  • Write down your income and expenses for each month, e.g. in a household book. So you always have an eye on where your money is going.
  • Record how much money you need per month for rent, utilities, electricity, insurance, etc. You can spend the rest of your income on your livelihood or even save it up. Check your expenses carefully - then you can manage a tight budget sensibly.
  • In the case of a mini pension and low income, it is worthwhile for you to check whether you are entitled to additional state aid (housing benefit, basic security, etc.).

How do I keep my energy consumption under control?

Read your meter readings regularly - at least once a quarter - and write them down, e.g. in a table. In addition, make consistent use of your individual options for saving energy.

Make sure that your payments on account match your electricity consumption and that they are neither too low nor too high. Too low advance payments lead to high additional claims in the annual accounts. If the advance payments are too high, you can look forward to a repayment in the annual invoice - but the money in the previous months may be missing elsewhere.

  • Check your advance payments and, if necessary, have your electricity supplier adjust them to the actual energy consumption.
  • Sometimes it makes sense to check whether a change of tariff or provider will help save costs.
  • Attention: Also keep in mind that the cheapest provider does not automatically have to be the best provider for you.

What can I do if the power cut is imminent or the energy supplier has already switched off the electricity?

If you have any doubts that the energy lock is justified, you can get help early from many consumer advice centers - or from a non-profit debt counseling center or from a lawyer. The interruption of supply can be unjustified, for example, if the outstanding claim is low, but the consequences of the lock represent particular hardship for the household concerned.

In the end, the young mother was “only” 4 days without electricity. 4 days in which she was difficult to reach by phone, could not wash and could not cook. A situation that she describes as "inhuman" also because of her small children. She sought legal help after unsuccessful alone with the utility and the job center. Shortly afterwards, the job center paid the missing deductions and it was connected to the power grid again.

As a rule, the following applies: Preventing an energy lock is easier to achieve than re-enabling a locked connection. In addition, there are additional costs for a lock - because both the lock itself and the unlock cost money. These additional costs add to the bill.

But even if the ban is justified, the following applies: Take action and seek help at an early stage.