German utilities have been sharply criticised by Schleswig-Holstein's energy minister Claus Möller for claiming that the costs of the Electricity Feed Law (EFL) are leading to job losses. "It is dishonest of electricity companies with high earnings to pretend that their rationalisation measures are a consequence of the costs of wind power," said Möller during a parliamentary debate on energy policy in Schleswig-Holstein on November 9. "So far the costs of the EFL have caused no appreciable reduction in the energy supply companies' sales figures nor in their opulent dividends. This is another attempt to resist the expansion of renewable energies," he continued. Wind energy has created over 1000 new jobs in Schleswig Holstein.

Möller's speech was a response to recent claims by utility Schleswag and its parent, Preussenelektra, that large numbers of jobs would be lost if the EFL is allowed to continue. The law obliges utilities to buy wind power and pay a premium price for it. The Schleswag council held an extraordinary meeting on November 9 to discuss what it claims is an expanding financial burden. In the long term, the council sees this as a politically created danger to jobs. Strangely, the trend towards the founding of independent municipal utilities -- which take business away from Schleswag -- is only regarded as a secondary problem.

Despite Möller's criticism, he and the Schleswig-Holstein government still maintain that the costs of wind energy under the EFL should be spread across the whole of Germany. Discussions of this option were proposed by the federal government when it recently endorsed the EFL, but these have not yet begun.

Similar problems are being encountered in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. Renate Holznagel, vice chair of the CDU party, which governs in a coalition with the Social Democrats, has appealed to district councils to view critically claims by utilities that their recent price increases were due to the costs of wind energy. She points out that the state's energy minister, Harald Ringstorff, declared the real reason for the price increases by Wemag, EMO and Hevag are the high costs involved in supplying rural areas and the large investments necessary to modernise power plant and the grid, neglected under the Communist regime.

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