Rechnungshof

The ACA audits the fight against energy poverty

10.07.2020 - The Federal Ministry for Climate Action should evaluate the measures

Low income, high energy costs and living in buildings with a poor building fabric and old heaters are the main reasons for a restricted access to energy supply. The ACA audited the measures to counteract energy poverty in Austria and published its report "Energy Industry Measures Against Energy Poverty" (in German) today. The audit was carried out prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. The audited period spanned the years from 2013 through 2018.

The ministry should evaluate energy law measures

The ACA underlines that Austria has already taken some steps to reduce energy poverty: for example, it provided emergency aid in the form of basic energy supply or the partial protection from energy supply disconnections. It notes however that the majority of the measures benefited – in the spirit of consumer protection – all customers and were not specifically tailored to vulnerable persons and those affected by energy poverty. In the report, the auditors criticize the fact that no findings on the effectiveness of the measures were available by the end of the audit. The question, for example, of why the right to basic provision was hardly made use of remained open. The ACA recommends therefore to the Federal Ministry for Climate Action to evaluate the energy law measures taken so far to support vulnerable persons and to reduce energy poverty with regard to their effectiveness and appropriateness.

Energy suppliers cooperate with municipal social facilities

The ACA also audited selected energy companies in Graz (Styria), Wels (Upper Austria) and Vienna and notes the following: the municipal energy suppliers engaged in voluntary actions to fight energy poverty. Such actions ranged from one-off financial support to longer-term support for those affected and included collaborations with municipal social facilities and non-governmental organizations. The ACA assesses this cooperation as appropriate since the direct contact to the energy supplier often poses a hurdle for low-income households. The energy companies, however, did not undertake any evaluations either – even despite comprehensive support. The ACA recommends to the audited energy suppliers to obtain information on the measures to eradicate energy poverty from their cooperation partners in order to gain valuable insights on their effectiveness and sustainability as well as on possible improvements.

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Report: Energy Industry Measures Against Energy Poverty

From November 2018 to May 2019, the ACA audited the measures taken against energy poverty in the supply areas of electricity and natural gas at the then Federal Ministry for Sustainability and Tourism and at the energy suppliers of the cities of Graz, Wels and Vienna.

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