October 13, 2017 / 1:29 PM / a year ago

German renewable support fee seen easing around 1.2 percent in 2018: sources

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - A surcharge levied on German consumers to support renewable power will be reduced by around 1.2 percent next year, industry sources said on Friday.

The surcharge under the renewable energy act (EEG) would amount to close to 6.8 euro cents (8.1 U.S. cents) per kilowatt-hour (kWh) in 2018, down from 6.88 cents this year, they said.

The country’s four network operators, which collect the fee, are due to deliver a statement on the widely watched instrument early on Monday.

It comprised just over a fifth of consumers’ final bills in 2016 and therefore represents the biggest and most symbolic spending block for Germany’s Energiewende policy to transition to renewables.

Industry lobbies have predicted a fall, saying funds that are collected continuously to support green electricity are expected to exceed anticipated payouts next year, although there is an ongoing expansion of wind and solar installations.

The eventual cost depends on weather patterns, which determine how much renewable energy is produced and entitled to support from the EEG account.

Payouts this year should amount to 24 billion euros, the industry has estimated, explaining the high political importance of the fee’s size.

Consumer portal Verivox said that should the fee on Monday come in as forecast, an average household consuming 4,000 kWh a year should save only 4.8 euros next year, compared with current annual costs of 1,131.60 euros.

The portal, which encourages unhappy consumers to compare prices and switch supplier, said network transmission fees are due to rise in some regions.

Grid operators pass those costs on to consumers, for whom they account for around a quarter of the total electricity bill.

Also, wholesale power prices in Germany have increased this year, responding to tighter supply and robust demand.

Reporting by Vera Eckert; Editing by Dale Hudson

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