Economists have calculated that more than 20 million people in Germany are threatened by energy poverty: These citizens have to spend more than ten percent of their net income on energy. And the number of people affected is increasing rapidly. Gas prices have tripled recently and are continuing to climb. It’s “social explosives,” says Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz, and he’s right. What shall we do? DGB boss Yasmin Fahimi calls for an energy price cap for private households. A basic need for electricity and gas should be set for every adult and every child, the price of which is capped. If you use more, you have to pay more.

That sounds relatively simple, but it is by no means. On the one hand, there is a risk of new bureaucracy: who determines this basic requirement, according to which criteria, and for how long? There should also be plenty of complaints. In addition, the living conditions are very different.

The basic needs may be sufficient for a family on the third floor of a new building. However, for a retired couple who have stayed in their old 120 square meter house after the children have moved out, it can mean bitter cold in their familiar home.

And finally, the question arises as to who pays the difference between the capped basic price and the actual market price. The energy suppliers themselves? That resonated with Fahimi: “A little more public spirit and less profit maximization would be good for many companies,” she said. However, that would mean risking the collapse of energy suppliers. Many are already stricken because they cannot pass on the rapidly rising purchase prices to consumers. Or does the state have to step into the breach?

Instead of giving something away, the state should take away less. Why is the electricity tax in Germany so high compared to other European countries? Why isn’t the government lowering VAT rates on energy like other countries have done? So far, the state has made a lot of money from the horrendous prices. That needs to change. It’s still warm like summer, but the next winter will definitely come.

“Change of power” is the WELT podcast with Dagmar Rosenfeld and Robin Alexander. Every Wednesday. Subscribe to Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music, Deezer or via RSS feed, among others.