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Germany

Germany

Heavy industry seeks exemption

Energy intensive industry is to be shielded from some extra costs of Germany's renewable energy law Erneuerbare Energien Gesetz (EEG) if amendments to it proposed by federal economy minister Wolfgang Clement are passed later this year. It is a major victory for the energy users, whose campaign for protection from the so-called "burden" of the EEG is backed by the powerful pro-nuclear energy and chemicals trade union Industriegewerkschaft Bergbau, Chemie, Energie (IGBCE) and the metalworkers union IG Metall.

While Clement has been swayed by the campaign, federal environment minister Jürgen Trittin is yet to be convinced. The amendment should only be introduced, he says, if a "neutral supervisory body" -- effectively a regulator -- is appointed to check that any protection offered actually reaches the customer rather than being pocketed by electricity companies.

Meanwhile, the renewable energy industry is expressing concern that the intent of the users' campaign is to undermine the EEG. German wind association Bundesverband Wind Energie (BWE) claims the electricity industry is inflating the costs of the EEG and then blaming the law "to cloud the real reasons for excessively high electricity prices -- overblown charges for balancing power and network usage charges." Indeed, the federal cartel office has launched proceedings against two companies suspected of over-charging (main story).

The BWE and the federal renewables' association Bundesverband Erneuerbare Energie (BEE) concede that some heavy users, such as aluminium smelters, could suffer under the EEG. But the network companies must calculate the extra cost of the EEG from a fair basis, something which is not now the case, say BWE and BEE. A fair calculation would halve the actual costs passed on to consumers, they claim. The actual cost of the EEG, spread across all electricity consumers, is no more than EUR 0.0021/kWh, says BWE.

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