Energy prices are currently rising rapidly – with no end in sight. But how are energy providers actually doing in times like these? Andreas Clor, CEO of EGT Energivertrieb in Triberg, provides an insight.
Furtwangen – When Andreas Clor, managing director of EGT Energivertrieb Triberge, looks at the company’s current sales figures, he does not feel good. Although they are large, “just because sales have increased does not mean that the company’s performance has improved to the same extent,” he explains, and wants to dispel preconceived notions. Because margins do not depend on sales – they are fixed. The result, according to EGT’s CEO: “More sales are actually harder.” The sales-to-profit ratio is getting worse and the monthly receivables from the customer are higher, which is now causing bad debts to increase.
lack of capital
Because: Not all customers will be able to pay their bills this winter, Clor explains. However, the energy supplier must pay in advance if he buys gas and electricity on the energy market and sells them to his customers. If his customers do not pay contractual advance payments and claims from the final bill at the end of the year, he would lack the capital to continue buying gas in the market.
Forecast: Many defaults in the winter
Clor assumes that the bad debt rate will increase. Many gas users have heating gas, “they will need significantly more gas in the coming months than in the summer.” As a result, monthly pre-financing costs increased significantly during the winter. It has also become more difficult or even impossible to insure customers against bad debts. They want to honor existing contracts and, unlike other suppliers, “not throw customers away,” he says. To counter strong sales growth EGT also recently stopped selling new customers.
Another issue: “Our sub-suppliers’ payment terms have been reduced a lot recently,” Cloras says. This would increase financing costs. “We expect that the liquidity requirements that we have to finance in advance will increase significantly in the winter,” he calculates. Achieving this in the current market environment is “not so easy for the average energy supplier”.
Some have to protect themselves with security guards
However, many customers, shocked by energy prices, do not know this and are disappointed with energy suppliers. Some customer centers, Clor reports, now even have to call on security guards.
But Clor understands the customers’ situation: many – especially merchants – suddenly had to pay such a large discount that there was fear for existence. Many have also been affected by the Corona crisis. “There are those who don’t know how to handle it anymore. And when it comes to existence, it’s clear that emotions are also boiling,” he says. However, Cloras points out, energy suppliers are not responsible for this. “We just sit in the gaps and mostly get it,” he laments. But fortunately, says Clor, EGT is still happening quietly. “It hasn’t happened to us yet, but there are examples of it increasing.
The current developments also guarantee EGT “increasing economic risk at the same margin”, he explains – meaning that the company’s bottom line – ie what remains at the end of the day – tends to deteriorate. “If bad debt is higher than your earnings, that’s obviously a negative,” Clor explains of his fears. Many energy suppliers would be in trouble for this.
His expectations from politics? “When you implement any cost-cutting programs, they shouldn’t be unnecessarily complicated,” he says. And: In Cloro’s view, politics should also intervene in pricing mechanisms. Because according to the Merit-Oder principle, the last kilowatt-hour required in Germany shapes the price of all other kilowatt-hours. But the last one is also the most expensive – it is the basis of the price of all kilowatt hours. This leads to currently high market prices, explains Clor. “If you look at it again, I think the problem would be solved.”