Many low-income households in Germany and those living near the poverty line suffer from rising electricity costs in recent years. As a result, the number of power cuts has increased significantly. According to data from the Federal Network Agency, a total of just under 359,000 interruptions of the power supply due to payment arrears by energy companies were caused in 2015. In order to avoid such current barriers, more and more utilities are offering their customers a prepayment meter. According to the principle of the prepayment mobile phone, credit is charged which is available for household electricity consumption. The phenomenon of energy poverty in Germany is relatively young and thus the number of prepayment meters still low. Experience in this context is therefore rare.
In this project, the first scientific survey of households with prepaid meters in Germany was carried out and the results were analysed.
Experiences from other countries were also gathered and the technical systems were explored in Germany and abroad. Overall, the study concludes that prepaid meters have many advantages and also provide an incentive to save electricity. However, there are also many disadvantages. Above all, there is a lack of a regulatory framework that protects consumers from excessively high fees. The study therefore also provides numerous recommendations for politicians and energy supply companies.