The discussion about a revision of the renewable energy support regime picked up speed with two recent initiatives. Liberal Economics Minister Philipp Rösler called (again) for a fundamental reform of the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG), while his Conservative cabinet colleague Environment Minister Peter Altmaier proposed measures to limit electricity prices by limiting the EEG related costs.
Costs associated with the phase-out of nuclear power in Germany until 2022 and with having a greater share of renewable energy have been the subject of increasing awareness since the legislative package of 2011 that lead to the Energiewende. In January the Federal Association of the Energy and Water Industry (BDEW) pointed out the various rising surcharges for consumers, in particular the 47% rise of the EEG surcharge to 5.28 ct/kWh. With said surcharge consumers pay for the difference between the fixed feed-in tariffs paid pursuant to the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG) for renewable energy fed into the grids and the sale of the renewable energy at the EEX energy exchange by the transmission system operators. Not surprisingly there have been calls from various camps to put a stop to the increase of the electricity prices.
Mr Altmaier  has repeatedly said he wanted a broad consensus for an EEG reform, hence a fundamental reform was not likely to take place before the federal election. Mr Rösler  on the other hand called for an EEG reform before the election. In a press release issued by the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (BMWi) today, Mr Rösler reiterated his demand, saying the government had to put a stop to the spiraling costs. Without going into further detail he demanded a fundamental reform of the EEG.
Today Mr Altmaier proposed an amendment of the EEG to be enacted by August this year, i.e. before the election, to limit electricity prices by limiting the EEG related costs.
His proposal consists of the following aspects:
- To ensure the predictability, reliability and affordability of the EEG related electricity price costs, the EEG surcharge shall be limited and mandated by law;
- For 2013 and 2014 the EEG surcharge shall amount to 5.28 ct/kWh, and the increase in the following years shall be limited to 2.5% per year;
- One-off measures (that take place in any case) and a set of additional measures (that take place if needed) shall help to limit costs. The measures include:
- A greater flexibility for the payments of feed-in tariffs for new renewable power plants (according to the magazine Der Spiegel operators of new renewable power plants might not get feed-in tariffs upon the commissioning of the plant, but only if the EEG equalisation account of the transmission operators is balanced (for the current provision on the commencement and duration of feed-in tariff payments, please see Section 21 EEG );
- A reduction of exemptions for energy-intensive companies (Sections 40 to 44 EEG contain limitations of the EEG surcharge for energy-intensive companies pursuant to the special equalisation scheme)
- The “eroding solidarity” with regard to the EEG surcharge due to self-production and self-consumption shall be stopped (Pursuant to Section 37 para. 3 sent. 2 EEG the EEG surcharge is waived for self generated and consumed electricity that is not transmitted and used in the vicinity of the place of generation)
- A one-time EEG surcharge (so-called EEG-Soli) to be paid by the operators of existing renewable power plants
Sources: Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology ; Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety ; Spiegel