* Charge to rise to 5.3 cents from 3.6 cents -source
* Network operators all decline to comment
* Increase scheduled to be released on Oct. 15
* Politically sensitive move before next year's election
* Households to pay at least 7 percent more for power
(Recasts lead, adds details on power prices, background,
BERLIN, Oct 10 Germany's surcharge for renewable
energy will rise by almost half next year, a government source
told Reuters on Wednesday, intensifying the burden for consumers
from the country's shift away from nuclear power.
The 47 percent increase reflects the fact that renewable
sources are providing increasing amounts of electricity, which
is bought from producers at guaranteed prices above market
Coming a year ahead of a federal election in which
Chancellor Angela Merkel will seek a third term, the sharp rise
in the surcharge is politically charged.
The so-called 'Umlage' -- charges levied on German consumers
to support renewable power -- will rise to 5.3 euro cents per
kilowatt hour (kWh) in 2013 from 3.6 cents in 2012, the source
The four leading high voltage network operators (TSOs) are
scheduled to officially release the increase on Oct. 15, based
on their forecast of renewable power production in 2013.
They are 50Hertz, owned by Belgian Elia and
Australian fund IFM, E.ON's former high voltage grid
unit TenneT, RWE's former unit Amprion, and
EnBW's grid unit TransnetBW.
All four operators declined to comment on the news.
Under German law, green power from sources like wind and
solar must be fed into the electricity grid and paid for at
above-market rates in a system partly administered by the TSOs.
The renewable surcharge covers the difference between
guaranteed prices paid for renewable energy and market prices
for conventional energy.
German media has been highlighting the cost to households of
Merkel's decision last year to speed up the switch to renewables
and switch off nuclear plants earlier than planned.
Opposition parties have accused the government of letting
private consumers bear the brunt, after it exempted
energy-intensive heavy industry from green energy and network
Internet portals which monitor prices for German consumers
said the surcharge move will hike household power bills by more
than 7 percent next year.
"The next letter from the power utility should bring unhappy
news for most household customers," said portal Toptarif.
Rival portal Verivox said an average household using 4,000
kWh per year would likely pay 1,070 euros ($1,380) in 2013
compared with 997 euros now.
In addition, consumers stand to be charged value-added tax
(VAT) and probably higher fees for network usage passed on to
end users by utilities, Verivox said.
Together with a rising burden from footing the bill for the
industry exemptions, retail prices might actually rise by 11
percent, which would be biggest jump seen in 10 years.
($1 = 0.7754 euros)
(Reporting by Berlin bureau, Tom Kaeckenhoff in Duesseldorf and
Christoph Steitz in Frankfurt, additional reporting by Vera
Eckert; Writing by Christoph Steitz; Editing by Keiron Henderson
and David Cowell)