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German utilities may be deliberately over-estimating the additional costs of having to purchasing renewables generated electricity. A recent court case has revealed that claimed "extra costs" by a utility were not correct, reports the Inland Wind Energy Association, IWB.

The Düsseldorf court has ruled that the additional costs for renewables paid by municipal utility Stadtwerke Wuppertal only amount to DEM 0.01/kWh -- and not DEM O.08-0.12/kWh as the utility had claimed. The costs of transforming electricity from other sources from high to middle voltage were an important factor ignored by the utility, ruled the court.

Taking into account the avoided transformer costs (wind and hydro power are usually fed directly into the middle voltage 110 kV grid), the court assesses the utility's avoided costs in 1995 when buying renewables instead of power from other sources at DEM 0.1626/kWh. The rate set for wind under the Electricity Feed Law (EFL) is DEM 0.1728/kWh, resulting in an additional cost to the utility of only DEM 0.01/kWh, the court pointed out.

By giving the impression that renewables are vastly expensive, the utilities apparently hope to strengthen their case against the EFL. The law obliges utilities to pay a price for renewable energies which they claim is much higher than the price they pay for electricity from other independent generators using conventional fuels, or for supplies bought in from other utilities.

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