Licence granted for independent supply

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German wind plant developer and operator Plambeck Neue Energien (PNE) has been licensed as an electricity marketer, starting in October. Customers who switch to Plambeck supplies will pay less than they did to their previous supplier and power saving will be rewarded with a linear tariff system rather than the widespread utility price system of a fixed standing charge plus working price. This rewards customers for using more power as a fixed standing charge and means the average price per kWh sinks as consumption rises.

The switch to Plambeck will be simple. A postcard or telephone call is all that is needed, says the company, based in Cuxhaven. The supply licence is required under section three of Germany's Energy Industry Act, in force since April 1998. Handing over the license to Plambeck last month, the economy minister for Lower Saxony, Peter Fischer, commented that Plambeck can now be numbered among those set to stir up the electricity market in Germany-in theory, that is.

In practice it could be a long while before anybody can buy electricity from Plambeck. Until the terms and conditions for third party access to the grid have been decided, Plambeck has no way of getting its electricity to customers. "We won't make promises we can't keep," says Wolfgang von Geldern of the Plambeck board. For this year the company will just test the waters in localised areas for its power product. Nationwide marketing will begin in 2000, says van Geldern.

A national agreement on grid access is due at the end of this month, but there are doubts about whether it will be achieved. Fischer has promised to bring the matter before the upper house of parliament if the agreement is not satisfactory for all market players.

PNE is planning to add biomass, photovoltaic and hydro to its wind activities, now strengthened in a deal with DeWind. DeWind is to transfer six planned wind projects of three to five turbines each to PNE, and PNE is to buy 1 MW and 600 kW DeWind turbines for projects over a two year period. Pending construction licences, all projects are expected to be built by 2001. PNE has two further two-year supply contracts with turbine makers Nordex and AN Windenergie. These will expire at the end of 1999 and PNE hopes to replace them with framework agreements similar to that with DeWind.

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