Regulator urges Germans to prepare for possible gas shortage
Fearing Russia might cut off natural gas supplies, the head of Germany’s regulatory agency for energy called on residents Saturday to save energy and to prepare for winter, when use increases.
Federal Network Agency President Klaus Mueller urged house and apartment owners to have their gas boilers and radiators checked and adjusted to maximize their efficiency.
“Maintenance can reduce gas consumption by 10 percent to 15 percent ,’’ he told Funke Mediengruppe, a German newspaper and magazine publisher.
Mueller said residents and property owners need to use the 12 weeks before cold weather sets in to get ready. He said families should start talking now about “whether every room needs to be set at its usual temperature in the winter - or whether some rooms can be a little colder.”
The appeal came after Russia reduced gas flows to Germany, Italy, Austria, the Czech Republic and Slovakia earlier this month, as European Union countries scramble to refill storage facilities with the fuel used to generate electricity, power industry and heat homes in the winter.
Russian state-owned energy company Gazprom blamed a technical problem for the reduction in natural gas flowing through Nord Stream 1, a pipeline which runs under the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany.
German leaders have rejected that explanation and called the reductions a political move in reaction to the European Union’s sanctions against Russia after its attack on Ukraine.
Germany is dealing with “a quasi economic warfare conflict” against the backdrop of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, said Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck, who is also Germany’s economy and climate minister and responsible for energy.
The Russian calculation is to “destroy the unity and solidarity of the country’’ through high energy prices in Germany, Habeck said at an event organized by Die Zeit on July 2.
The question is whether the upcoming regular maintenance of the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline will turn into “a longer-lasting political maintenance,” Mueller said.
Last month, Habeck activated the second phase of Germany’s three-stage emergency plan for natural gas supplies, warning that Europe’s biggest economy faced a ``crisis’’ and storage targets for the winter were at risk.