Double Gas Bills for Millions of German households

German households are bracing for higher-than-usual bills this winter as energy companies pass on the price of gas, which has risen since Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The bill for a typical household could double from October 1, Germany's RheinEnergie group warned in a statement on Monday - the first major supplier to provide a detailed estimate, AFP reported.

The company supplies energy to about 2.5 million people in the region around the city of Cologne, in western Germany.

An "almost 450% increase in the cost of purchasing natural gas" over the past year is at the heart of the punitive increase, RheinEnergie said.

"The market deteriorated significantly again with the start of Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine," further pushing up the price, RheinEnergie said.

Bills for a two-person household with an average gas consumption of 10,000 kilowatt hours a year will jump from around 960 euros ($980) a year ago to 2,002 euros, the company said.

Germany is heavily dependent on Russian gas supplies to meet its energy needs, but since the start of the war, Moscow has been slowly reducing supplies.

The threat that Russia could cut off supplies altogether raised the possibility of winter shortages and pushed Germany closer to rationing supplies.

Officials in Berlin ordered gas storage tanks to be filled before winter and moved to allow under-pressure energy companies to pass on rising costs.

This step, which will take effect in the fall, could increase household bills by "several hundred euros," Economy Minister Robert Habeck said.

However, this is "not included" in the increase announced by RheinEnergie, the group said.

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