Utility announces stop to wind turbine connections

Pressure continues to mount on the German government to amend the law governing its Renewable Energy Feed In Tariff REFIT). Utility PreussenElektra has informed the economic affairs ministry that wind now makes up more than 5% of its electricity mix and under the existing law it is no longer obliged to buy power from new wind turbines in the supply areas of its north German subsidiaries Schleswag and EWE. PreussenElektra was not expected to hit the 5% ceiling until next year and the utility's calculations are regarded as highly dubious and have been rejected by both the wind lobby and by economics minister Werner Müller. As part of its argument, the utility says that wind power bought by Schleswag and EWE displaces power they would otherwise have bought from PreussenElektra, reducing the utility's income. The forecast for 1999 sales for PreussenElektra Netzgesellschaft, the company's grid division, is 58 TWh and 5% of this is 2.9 TWh. Wind generated power fed into the Netzgesellschaft grid will reach 3.6 TWh, says PreussenElektra. But it ignores the "double 5% clause" which says that wind power included within the 5% limit of Preussenelektra's subsidiaries cannot also form part of PreussenElektra's 5% cap further up the supply chain. "I regret that investors in renewable energies have been hit once more with new uncertainty through this one-sided statement from PreussenElektra," he says. An amendment to the REFIT is under preparation (Windpower Monthly, October 1999) and it should soon be ready for debate in parliament, adds Müller. The aim is to spread the cost of wind power over the whole country instead of concentrating it on utilities in the windy north, where most wind plant are installed. Müller also says the wind tariff in future will no longer be linked to the price of electricity to consumers. Electricity market liberalisation in Germany is causing electricity prices to fall -- and this drop will also hit wind prices as these are fixed as a percentage of the price of all electricity. The amended law will gie investors the security they are seeking, says Müller.

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