The Czech government planned to provide households that receive district heating with a total of CZK 17 billion as compensation for high prices this year. Specifically, a family consuming 20 gigajoules would receive approximately CZK 4,000. The government approved the support in December 2020, and the European Commission in June 2021. Unfortunately, it is now threatened that the disbursed amount will ultimately be lower.
Minister of Industry and Commerce Jozef Síkela (for STAN) admitted to reducing the total amount. “We need to look again at how high support for district heating should go in the context of energy prices, including heat,” he told Právo. “Energy prices, including heat, need to be seen as a whole and viewed from the perspectives of the impact on consumers and the state budget,” he added.
According to Martin Hájek, director of the Czech District Heating Association, the Ministry of Finance is critically opposed to the CZK 17 billion amount. “The Ministry of Finance pretends that they had never heard of it, which is interesting when the government approved it last year,” Hájek said.
The office declined to comment. “The relevant material submitted by the Ministry of Industry and Commerce is currently in the interdepartmental comment procedure, and the Ministry of Finance normally adheres to the principle of not commenting on materials that have not yet been approved by the government and whose final form has not yet been agreed upon,” Stefan Fous of the Ministry of Finance’s press department said.
The Ministry of Industry and Commerce is currently dealing with comments on the material and wants to submit a call for district heating to the government by the end of August.
One call will cover costs from last February to December, while the other will be for this year. After the calls are announced, a period for accepting applications from district heating plants will be set, which will then be evaluated. The money will be forwarded to customers when it comes into the heating plants’ accounts.
Even if the government approves the support in the initially planned amount, it will only be a slight relief for some households. In some places, such as Slaný or Luby in the Cheb region, people had to pay tens of thousands of crowns in arrears for rapidly rising heating prices last year, and some even over a hundred thousand.