Preussenelektra argues that the REFIT legislation violates utility proprietary and professional rights and contradicts basic human rights for equal treatment for all. The REFIT mainly applies in windy areas and here citizens are being forced to pay for the environmental well being of the whole country, argues the utility. The REFIT is thus an illegal levy.
Utilities in northern Germany, dominated by Preussenelektra, pay 70% of all REFIT payments. Preussenelektra says its share was DEM 230 million in 1996, rising to about DEM 300 million in 1997. Under the new legislation, which allows regional utilities with more than 5% of wind in their sales to pass on REFIT payments above this limit to their parents, Preussenelektra claims it will be landed with new bills for "hundreds of millions."
So concerned for its parent is one of Preussenelektra's regional utilities, Schleswag, that it has announced that its REFIT payments for wind power are only provisional. If the court declares the REFIT unconstitutional, wind turbine owners must return the money.
Preussenelektra also says the German government should have presented the amended version of the REFIT legislation to the European Commission for approval. The only reason it did not was because the government believed the EC would have disallowed the law, claims Preussenelektra.
Meantime, east German utility Vereinigte Energiewerke (VEAG) in Berlin is now also considering an appeal to the Constitutional Court against the REFIT -- because the renewables power will displace power from lignite. Due to the huge investment made in lignite mining and lignite power stations in eastern Germany since the two halves of the country were unified, lignite generation has been given special protection under the energy liberalisation legislation. VEAG fears anything which could undermine this lignite policy.