Disagreements over proposed change to eco-electricity law

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Echoing the battle between Germany's economics and environment ministries in the run-up to enacting the amended German renewable energy law in August, Austria's ministries are at loggerheads over a proposed draft amendment to the country's eco-electricity law that has been in force since the start of 2003. The federal economics and labour ministry wants to replace the current fixed minimum prices for wind power with a system of competitive bids for contracts for purchase of renewable energy because "support should go to the most efficient plant." Under its proposal, the money available for paying for the extra cost of green power, starting at EUR 158 million in 2005 and rising to EUR 218 million in 2010, would be shared out among the renewable technologies, with 20% earmarked for wind energy, 40% for biomass, 30% for biogas and 10% for photovoltaic, the ministry states. Environment minister Josef Pröll is dismayed by the proposals and plans "an extremely critical response" to the draft. He praises the merits of the existing law for its contribution to meeting targets for reducing emissions responsible for climate change, for its job creation and for triggering industrial investment. He rejects the proposal for a tendering system "that has been tried in several European countries and failed miserably." He concludes "that the planned model is aimed at stagnation rather than expansion." Even the proposed small increase to a 6% renewables' share of electricity consumption (excluding large hydro) by 2010 would not be reached, he claims. Under current law, 5% will be achieved by 2007, he points out.

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