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Germany's EnBW will raise household gas prices in 2022, not power

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FILE PHOTO: Flags of German power supplier EnBW Energie Baden-Wuertemberg AG are pictured at the company's headquarters in Karlsruhe
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FRANKFURT (Reuters) - German utility EnBW on Monday said household gas customers face steep increases in their gas bills next year as it passes on record wholesale rates but household electricity was unaffected and power for heating would even get cheaper.

Price moves by the southwestern company with a retail customer base of 5.5 million give clues about the general direction for German households which pay some of Europe's highest rates due to costly support for carbon-free energy, despite having hundreds of suppliers to choose from.

Wholesale gas prices have been driven by Asia's economic recovery - which sent coal and gas soaring - low European gas inventories and a new German carbon tax levied on gas, heating oil, gasoline and diesel, EnBW said in a statement.

"Costs for EnBW customers have not risen proportionally to those on the energy exchanges," the utility said, citing its long-term procurement strategies.

While wholesale gas had risen by three and a half times since the beginning of 2021, a typical household of three or four people using 20,000 kWh per year mostly for heating stood to pay 18.7% more from Jan. 1, or on average 22 euros ($25.18) per month.

Contracts tend to be renewed annually, which can delay the impact of increases for many of Germany's 41.5 million households while choosing contracts other than standardised ones can also bring individual savings.

Wholesale power has more than doubled this year but a politically supported cut of an important renewable power surcharge within retail bills helped EnBW cushion the blow, it said.

The EEG fee, which accounts for a fifth of overall bills, was cut by 3.7% for 2021, allowing EnBW to keep 2022 prices for supplying household's sockets unchanged.

It cut power used by heat pumps or storage heaters - comparably a small segment - by between 1.6% and 2.4%.

($1 = 0.8736 euros)

(Reporting by Vera Eckert, editing by Robert Birsel)

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