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Vienna to handout €200 payments to counter rising energy costs

Austria's capital has unveiled a plan including €200 one-off payments to fight rising energy prices after thousands of households were set to see bills double.

Vienna to handout €200 payments to counter rising energy costs
Vienna city Mayor Michael Ludwig (SPÖ). (Copyright: C.Jobst/PID)

Vienna has announced an extensive package with one-off payments of €200 and structural measures that will benefit more than one million residents in the Austrian capital, Mayor Michael Ludwig (SPÖ) said during a press conference this Tuesday.

The announcement comes as energy bills rise, the cost of living increases, and the state-run utility company Wien Energie confirmed a 92 percent increase in bills for around 440,000 households in Vienna.

Wien Energie’s price increase still needs to be evaluated and approved by city authorities.

Vienna’s announcement also comes as the federal government unveiled a €6 billion set of measures to fight the rising cost of living, as reported.

READ ALSO: UPDATED: Why some households in Vienna are set for a gas price hike

Together with executive city councillor Peter Hanke (SPÖ), Ludwig announced the package and said that specific households could receive up to €1,000 in relief measures.

Energy bonus 2022

According to the city officials, the first phase of the relief package comes by the end of June, or early July, when about 650,000 households in Vienna will receive the €200 payment.

“In theory, a person could receive up to €1,000 in several tranches, and further measures or inflation packages cannot be ruled out. We want to cushion energy increases to households”, Ludwig said.

He said the first payment would be made to eligible households, which include about two-thirds of the Viennese homes. Residents will receive a mailed letter with a QR code to apply for the payment.

There is an income limit, and only Viennese residents with an annual gross income of a maximum of €40,000 for single-person households or €100,000 for multi-person families are entitled.

The mayor didn’t give further details on how additional payment “tranches” would work.

Further measures to control energy increases

Ludwig and Hanke mentioned other measures set aside to fight the effects of rising prices and ensure that the population is protected.

The mayor announced the city would set up a “Fairness Commission”. Ludwig said that the commission would “monitor international markets and ensure that lower purchase prices will be passed on to customers promptly”.

READ ALSO: Austria unveils €6 billion package to fight rising cost of living

Additionally, state utility company Wien Energie will not cut off electricity and gas supplies to defaulting consumers during the winter months of December 2022 to February 2023.

Consumers of the company will be allowed to repay debt in up to 18 monthly instalments, and a loyalty program for clients of Wiener Stadtwerke, the holding that owns Wien Energy and transport company Wiener Linien, will be created.

The City of Vienna, the sole owner of Wiener Stadtwerke, will waive its dividend payments to the city budget in 2022 and 2023. “Every euro generated should be used for investments in the energy transition and the best possible customer price”, Ludwig said.

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LIVING IN AUSTRIA

Energy crisis: What to do in case of a power outage in Austria

A recent power outage in Austria left thousands of households without electricity and hit tram lines and traffic lights in Innsbruck. Here's what you need to do if it happens where you are.

Energy crisis: What to do in case of a power outage in Austria

A large-scale power failure occurred in western Austria on Monday August 8th, affecting supply in 33 municipalities, including the Tyrol capital Innsbruck and its surrounding areas.

The power outage happened at around 10:45 am and lasted less than one hour, but was enough to leave thousands of households without energy, affect tram lines and shut down traffic lights, according to the daily Tiroler Tageszeitung.

READ ALSO: REVEALED: What is Austria’s emergency plan if Russia cuts gas supply?

Mountain railways such as the Innsbruck Nordkettenbahn stood still. In one of the gondolas, about 20 people waited for the onward journey, broadcaster ORF reported. The power failure also stopped passenger elevators. In several cases, the fire brigade had to open lift doors.

Tinetz restored supply at around 11:30 am and is investigating the causes of the failure – they suspect a construction work error could have caused the shortage.

So what to do in the event of a power failure?

Following the outage Austrian power suppliers shared tips and the proper procedures to follow during power failures.

According to Wiener Netze, if the electricity in your apartment or house fails, it is essential to keep calm. There are six steps you need to follow.

The first is to create light by getting a flashlight or candle or activating the flashlight function on your smartphone. “This allows you to orient yourself in the rooms and reduce the risk of injury”, the company said.

Tyrol’s Tinetz company also highlights that a power shortage is not an emergency, “so do not call emergency services such as fire brigade, ambulance, or similar”.

READ ALSO: Who to call and what to say in an emergency in Austria

Then, you need to try and access who is affected by the power failure. Just look out the window to see if there is still light in your street – you can also ask your neighbours if they have electricity at home.

If you are the only one affected, check whether individual fuses have failed and see if any fuses are set to off. If that is the case, you need to simply flip the levers again or replace old fuses with new ones.

You should understand how your fuse box works (Photo by mostafa mahmoudi on Unsplash)

You should immediately unplug electrical appliances that no longer work and replace them with new devices once you have energy back on.

READ ALSO: Cost of living: How to save money on energy bills in Austria

If other apartments or houses are also affected, you need to contact your local power grid disruption line (in Vienna, that would be calling 0800 500 600, in Tyrol, the number is +43 0 50708 123). The line should be available around the clock to immediately take care of the damage.

The local power supply companies also provide websites to check for any failures. For Vienna, you can check here. In Tyrol, here.

What to do after the power failures?

You must check your electrical appliances once the power supply is resumed.

Ensure that the last switched-on devices (such as an iron or a boiler) are switched off. If your power supply was interrupted for more than six hours, you should empty the refrigerator.

Your gas boiler automatically resumes working after a power failure. If not, turn the main switch off and on again or contact the device manufacturer.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: Is it worth switching to solar power in Austria?

Check all clocks that work with electricity to update the time. Also, check if any electrical devices no longer work – they should be taken to a repair shop or disposed of.

How do I prepare for a power outage?

You can prepare for a possible power failure.

First, it is important to get familiarised with the fuse box (including the key to it) in your home. You should also keep replacement fuses at hand and ensure that you have sufficient battery power for your alarm systems in case of prolonged failures.

You should also keep a flashlight with working batteries and the telephone number of your local power grid malfunction line in case of any emergencies.

If you don’t have a battery-powered radio, you can check the news with the radio on your car or even use the station’s app on a smartphone.

READ ALSO: Wild weather in Austria: How to protect yourself during summer storms

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