Feed law up for review

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Germany's 1991 Electricity Feed Law, which obliges utilities to buy power from renewable energy systems at 90% of the consumer price of electricity, is to be reviewed at the end of the year. The law could be left unchanged, amended, or abandoned entirely.

For wind energy an amendment would be the most welcome option. A ruling on who should pay the cost of grid strengthening, the grid owner or the wind plant developer, has long been sought. Grid improvements are often needed to allow for connection of wind turbines at the weak edges of the grid. The Federal Economy Ministry is known to be unhappy with the renewables provision in the law, but acknowledges that the sums involved are small. From DEM 50 million in 1991 they have reached a level of about DEM 75 million a year today.

Martin Cronenberg, head of the energy law department at the ministry, said at a Euroforum energy conference in Düsseldorf on March 16: "We will recommend the law continues unchanged." He pointed out that the law's hardship clause could be invoked to assist utilities unfairly burdened by renewables payments. In particular these include utilities in the windy north of the country where most wind plant are installed. Under the hardship clause, the additional costs of buying wind power could be passed on to the utilities' parent companies.

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