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ECONOMY

Is Austria set for a gas price hike – and what can you do to avoid it?

E-Control, Austria's energy regulator, says they "hope" energy prices will be on their way to normal by next winter but that saving energy "is the order of the day".

gas energy, Spain
How could a possible embargo on Russian energy impact Austria? Photo: Magnascan / Pixabay

This week, Austria activated a “gas alert” as part of its emergency plan to ensure gas supply for the country over fears that Russia would cut off supplies if Western countries refused to make payments in rubles.

This Friday, Austria’s chancellor Karl Nehammer (ÖVP) said that the country’s gas importer OV has not received any documents on a contract change regarding the currencies, Krone reported. 

Nehammer added that the Austrian company has contracts with Russian Gazprom valid until 2024 and specifically stating payments would be made in euros and dollars. He described the Kremlin’s demand that gas be paid in rubles as a “political announcement.”

Still, Austria is currently on the first stage of a gas alert, according to an announcement made this week by the Federal Government’s Crisis Cabinet together with E-Control, the country’s energy regulator.

The Local spoke with representatives of the energy authority to understand more about the gas supply situation in Austria and the perspectives for the future.

Though the regulator reiterates that “households fall under the so-called protected customers and do not have to expect any rationing of gas consumption”, they also reinforce that every individual can help reduce gas consumption and that saving energy, overall, is the “order of the day”.

What is the “gas alert” emergency plan?

The early warning stage means that the surveillance and monitoring system that has been in place for weeks “will be tightened even further”, E-Control says.

The authority and the Austrian Gas Grid Management (AGGM), two institutions responsible for the gas market in the country, will deliver daily reports to the Climate Protection Ministry and the Federal Government.

READ ALSO: Ukraine: What does the government’s ‘gas alert’ mean for Austria?

There are three stages in the emergency plan. Only the third one contains the possibility of adopting energy control measures such as rationing. Even so, they do not target households but industries instead, E-Control confirmed.

What is the current situation regarding gas supply in Austria?

The gas regulator stated that there is currently a full and regular supply of natural gas from Russia, both via Ukraine and other transport routes.

The storage level is also low but not at an abnormal level for this time of the year. Therefore, even if there is a restriction or stoppage of incoming gas, that would not necessarily cause a supply problem in the country.

The country has also used less gas than in years before, with consumption in February 2022 5.3% lower than the same month in 2021, primarily due to warmer weather for the month, according to E-Control data.

What happens next winter?

“We hope that the war in Ukraine will be over by then and that gas prices will have returned to a more or less normal level so that households will not have to fear gas price increases”, according to the Austrian energy authority.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: Why are fuel prices increasing faster in Austria than elsewhere in the EU?

At the same time, spring is traditionally the period for refilling gas storage supply, especially after a law was passed requiring a strategic gas reserve large enough to cover gas consumption for a cold January month, E-Control explains.

“The challenge, however, is to obtain a corresponding amount of gas at reasonable prices for filling the storage facilities. Alternatives are still being worked on”.

The supply is not at risk for this cold season. Still, Austria’s energy controller said that national and European measures must be taken to support the tank filling in the coming months.

One of the alternatives includes buying liquified natural gas (LNG) that can also be used for industrial processes and heating – LNG arriving to ship terminals in Italy could be transported to the landlocked country via pipelines.

Another alternative could be buying natural gas from other producers, such as Norway.

What can private consumers do right now?

“Every individual can help to reduce gas consumption”, E-Control said.

“Saving energy is the order of the day not only at the moment but for climate protection reasons in general”.

The energy specialist highlighted that there are several ways to reduce gas consumption without sacrificing comfort. For example, lowering the room temperatures by just one degree means saving six per cent.

E-Control explains that saving energy is done in two ways: by changing habits and using modern technologies. Simply swapping old light bulbs for LED lights, for example, can bring enormous savings, which can help cut costs as energy prices continue high worldwide.

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LIVING IN AUSTRIA

How to dispose of unwanted furniture or whitegoods in Vienna legally

Got an unwanted mattress, fridge, or sofa? Here’s how you can legally get it off your hands in Vienna.

How to dispose of unwanted furniture or whitegoods in Vienna legally

If you find yourself with a large piece of furniture or big household appliance that has seen its prime and is not bound to the trashcan, then you might be wondering where to dispose of them – legally, that is.

Even if it is not uncommon to see furniture or appliances next to the big trashcans often placed near households and apartment complexes, it is illegal to leave them there.

Different cities have different methods – some will even pick up trash at specific times and places. To know how your city deals with bulky waste (Sperrmüll), you can google “Sperrmüll + the name of your city”.

READ ALSO: Why does Vienna’s waste department have a helicopter and a military plane?

Vienna has several waste collection points where you can leave bulky waste, electrical appliances, hazardous waste (in household quantities) and other old goods for no charge.

The use of the Wiener Mistplätze is subject to certain quantity limits and requirements, but they are to avoid industrial use. Therefore, most households will have no problem with the limitations.

Here you can find several collection points in Vienna.

It is worth pointing out that delivery to those sites can only be made by cars with Viennese license plates, on foot or by bicycle. Furthermore, no trailers or company cars are allowed to leave trash at these collection points.

What can you bring to the collection centres?

This is the place to bring large sheets of plastic foil, bulky or large metal parts and electrical appliances, for example.

Additionally, you can bring small amounts of bulky waste, wood, styrofoam, large cardboard boxes, green waste and used tires to any waste collection centres.

Depending on what you are disposing of, you might need to go to the Rinter centre, one of the larger ones.

READ ALSO: Hasta la mista, baby? How to vote for your favourite Vienna trash can joke

The centres also have a separate division where it is possible to donate old items still in good condition, the so-called 48er-Tandler-Box.

Tableware, small furniture, electrical appliances, clothes, toys and other items can be reused and bought at a low price at the 48er-Tandler reuse shop.

Most centres are open only from Monday to Friday during business hours, but others are also available on Saturdays.

What to do if I don’t have a car?

If you don’t need a car but still need to dispose of a large appliance, the Viennese solution varies.

Some will take public transport with a couple of friends trying to help them carry an old sofa via the u-bahn, although that can get a little tough at peak hour. 

Alternatively, you can borrow or rent a vehicle to try and save costs.

READ ALSO: The downsides of Vienna you should be aware of before moving there

But Vienna City also has a service that will pick up the trash for a low fee – even if it is located in the attic, a basement or a courtyard.

It’s the Entrümpelungsdienst und Sperrmüllabfuhr der MA 48. You can also ask for the “dump service” when the city of Vienna brings a trough (the smallest can fit 12 cubic meters).

Once you fill it up, they will remove it and take it to the appropriate place.

Costs will depend on the amount of trash, the size of the appliance, and where in the household it is located.

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