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Germany

Germany

RENEWABLES GAIN POWERFUL ALLY, Deregulation in Germany

Renewed attempts to liberalise the electricity and gas sectors in Germany have prompted Peter Ramsauer, the influential energy spokesman for the CDU/CSU party, to call for protection of the aims of the Electricity Feed Law. At the end of April, federal economy ministry Günter Rexrodt presented his blueprint for liberalisation of the energy market to the German Cabinet.

The renewables lobby in Germany is proving to have friends in high places. Renewed attempts to liberalise one of the last bastions of monopoly power, the electricity and gas sectors, have prompted Peter Ramsauer, the influential energy spokesman for the CDU/CSU party, to call for protection of the aims of the Electricity Feed Law. The law requires utilities to buy renewable energy at a premium price.

At the end of April, federal economy ministry Günter Rexrodt presented his blueprint for liberalisation of the energy market to the German Cabinet. Under his plan, competition would rely on three main elements -- breaking down the existing utility monopoly, making it easier to build new electricity and gas lines, and allowing negotiated third party access (nTPA) to the grid.

The blueprint immediately drew fire from Ramsauer. First, he insists that all European Union (EU) countries must agree to the same degree of liberalisation. Second, access to the grid must be guaranteed for third parties. Third, Ramsauer stresses that the foundations of the EFL must remain intact, despite an increase in direct competition.

Rexrodt is optimistic that the Cabinet will take a positive decision on his draft law at the beginning of July, enabling parliamentary proceedings to begin after the summer break. His target is to have the new legislation in force from the start of 1997, regardless of whether progress is made in Brussels on the draft Directive on electricity liberalisation.

A similar draft produced by Rexrodt in spring 1994 was unceremoniously dropped by the Cabinet which was unwilling to tackle such a controversial and wide-reaching reform just before the federal elections in October 1994. Now, however, with the EU Commission pressing for agreement on liberalisation at European level, Rexrodt seems to be more in tune with the prevailing mood.

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