Green power trader branches out

Green power trader Naturstrom AG is launching a share issue to raise DEM 10 million in capital. It is the company's first solicitation since being founded in April. A prospectus will be published shortly and share certificates are to be put on the market by two banks, the GLS Gemeinschaftsbank in Bochum and the Commerzbank, which has branches nationwide. Naturstrom, a stockholding company set up by several environment lobby groups, including Bundesverband Windenergie (BWE), the German wind energy association, describes itself as Germany's first independent electricity utility ready to trade nationwide with exclusively renewable energy. Its business is to sign supply contracts with the operators of wind, solar, hydro, biomass and geothermal power stations and re-sell the power to customers as "natural power." Naturstrom points out, however, that Germany's energy law makes it difficult to supply power from renewable energies directly to end customers without new grid access rules. These could be expected in summer 1999 at the earliest. Not to waste time, Naturstrom has developed a mechanism for delivering green power to customers from January "to achieve independence from the temporary paralysis of the eco-power market by the grid monopolists." Customers have been signing up for "naturstrom" since early October at a price which is DEM 0.08/kWh higher than their "normal" power. Naturstrom, based in Düsseldorf, guarantees to take up power from exclusively new renewables plant that cannot operate economically under existing energy market conditions. "The financial input of Naturstrom customers therefore leads to a direct positive impact on the environment," it says.

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