With the energy cost grant for energy-intense companies, the Austrian federal government has launched an essential measure against the current energy crisis. The grant aims to mitigate the increased prices for electricity, natural gas and fuels for energy-intense companies. The statutory budget of EUR 450M shall be increased to EUR 1.3B due to the sharp rise in energy prices.
After the Corporate Energy Grant Act (UEZG; BGBl. I No. 117/2022) was already passed in June and the legal basis was thereby created, the federal government, under the responsibility of the Ministry of Labor and Economics, has finally agreed on the long-awaited funding guidelines that define the details of the grant. Grant applications can be submitted for additional energy costs incurred between 1 February 2022 and 30 September 2022.
Eligible companies for funding are energy-intense companies as well as entrepreneurial divisions of non-profit associations with their place of business in Austria. Energy-intense companies are those incurring energy costs of at least 3% of the production value (derived from revenue, changes in inventories and cost of sales) or for grant level 2 or higher levels (see below), if the national energy tax to be paid amounts to at least 0.5% of the company’s added value (derived from the total turnover and input services subject according to VAT-regulations). The financial statements for 2021 (or the latest ones available) are to be used as a benchmark for the 3% limit, however, the period from January to September 2022 might also be used as an alternative for funding stage 1. In order to support smaller businesses, the 3% energy intensity threshold does not apply for companies with annual sales of less than EUR 700,000.
Excluded from being eligible to the energy cost grant are local authorities, companies newly established as of 1 January 2022, energy-producing or mineral oil-processing companies, real estate companies, agriculture and forestry, companies from the banking and insurance sectors, self-employed sectors as well as political parties.
Funding is available for additional expenses for energy for the company's own consumption in the funding period from 1 February 2022 to 30 September 2022. The storage of energy is explicitly not eligible for funding. Additionally, the grant guidelines are intended to exclude price increases caused by speculative transactions.
The grant is based on the EU Commission's temporary crisis framework for state aid due to the Russia-Ukraine crisis and consists of a total of four funding stages, whereby a combination of the different stages is generally not possible. If the requirements for more than one stage are met, the applicant will have to choose which stage to apply for when submitting the application. For stages 2, 3 and 4, a mandatory monthly calculation method is foreseen:
1. In stage 1, an energy cost grant for electricity, natural gas and fuels of at least EUR 2,000 and max EUR 400,000 shall be available. For fuels stand alone, the maximum energy cost grant shall amount to EUR 50,000.
2. In stage 2, an energy cost grant for electricity and natural gas (excluding fuel) of max EUR 2M shall be available. Any energy cost grants under stage 1 from other affiliated companies are also to be taken into account for the max possible cap.
3. In stage 3, an energy cost grant for electricity and natural gas (excluding fuel) of at least EUR 2M and max EUR 25M shall be available. Any energy cost grants under stage 1 from other affiliated companies are also to be taken into account for the max possible cap.
4. In stage 4, an energy cost grant for electricity and natural gas (excluding fuel) of at least EUR 25M and max EUR 50M shall be available, whereby only selected industries shall be eligible for funding under this stage in accordance with Annex 2 to the Temporary EU Crisis Framework. Any energy cost grants under stage 1 from other affiliated companies are also to be taken into account for the max possible cap.
Eligible costs are only those that meet the conditions of the energy cost grant. While larger companies must submit an energy-saving concept in the form of an energy audit (as from stage 3), there are also to be specific energy-saving requirements, including – among others – restriction of business lighting at night and of heating in outdoor areas of companies. The energy-saving requirements are to be kept valid until 31 March 2023. In addition, grants exceeding EUR 100,000 are to be subject to similar terms and conditions as already known from several Covid-19 grant programs issued by COFAG (restriction of bonus payments, company not subject to certain tax anti-abuse provisions, etc.).
The grants will be subject to publication in the transparency database already starting from a comparable low threshold.
The energy cost grant will be administered by aws (Austrian promotional bank, which already handled the Covid-19 investment premium) on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Labor and Economics. Applications are to be submitted in a two-stage process consisting of a pre-registration and a formal application. Pre-registrations, which is expected to be possible from mid/end of October to mid-November, will have to be submitted via the aws Fördermanager. Such registration is mandatory, otherwise no formal application will be possible. Only one application per company will be possible. Formal applications should be possible from around mid-November 2022, with funding commitments for stage 1 expected in principle by the end of the year at the latest.
In order to ensure targeted support and to avoid double or excess funding, a confirmation of defined application items by a tax advisor or auditor is required, similar to the already known Covid-19 funding programs and the investment premium.
Energy-intense companies with an operating site in Austria can look forward to a grant of already up to EUR 400,000 in the first stage of the energy cost grant program, with grants of up to EUR 50,000,000 per company possible for particularly heavy affected sectors and cases. Pre-registrations will be possible from mid/end of October, the formal applications starting from mid-November. Despite the announcement of the details of the grant guidelines, their final publication after final approval by the respective institutions has to be awaited.
In addition to the energy cost grant, a separate flat-rate grant model is to be implemented for small enterprises on the basis of the UEZG, under which grants of up to a maximum of EUR 1,800 shall be possible.
Als Steuerberater und Wirtschaftsprüfer begleitet Florian Laure schwerpunktmäßig international agierende Unternehmen und Konzerne im Bereich internationales Steuerrecht und Konzernsteuerrecht. Sein Beratungsfokus liegt dabei auf der steuerlichen Begleitung von M&A Transaktionen als auch im Bereich grenzüberschreitender (Re)Strukturierungen. Darüber hinaus verfügt er über umfangreiche Expertise im Bereich F&E und IP aus steuerlicher Sicht und begleitet nationale und international agierende Unternehmen bei der Erarbeitung optimaler Förderstrategien sowie bei der steuerlichen F&E- und IP-Strukturierung. Fachautor und Fachvortragender.
Verena Ruedl ist als Förderexpertin im Bereich Global Investment & Innovation Incentives zuständig für indirekte und direkte, nationale sowie europäische Fördermöglichkeiten. Sie verfügt über mehrjährige Erfahrung mit öffentlichen Förderungen sowie der Forschungsprämie. Ein wesentlicher Tätigkeitsschwerpunkt liegt in der Entwicklung und Umsetzung optimaler Förderstrategien. Zudem besitzt sie insbesondere zu sämtlichen technischen Aspekten von Förderungen inkl. der Abwicklung der Projektbeschreibungen und technischen Anträgen ausgewiesene Expertise.
Denise Rosenitsch ist als Förderexpertin im Bereich Global Investment & Innovation Incentives zuständig für indirekte und direkte, nationale Förderungen. Sie begleitet Unternehmen bei der Beantragung von Förderungen für F&E- und Investitionsprojekte sowie der österreichischen Forschungsprämie. Während Ihres Studiums im Bereich der internationalen Betriebswirtschaft war sie in einer mittleren Steuerberatungskanzlei tätig, wo sie vor allem für die Abwicklung der Investitionsprämie zuständig war.