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Energy (Price) Policy Positions Slowly Emerging Before Upcoming Elections

Following Conservative Environment Minister Altmaier’s recent proposal [1] for an amendment of the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG) that limits the increase of the electricity prices in Germany and calls for a fundamental EEG reform by his cabinet colleague, Liberal Economics Minister Philipp Rösler, the positions of the other parties on the energy (price) policy are slowly emerging in view of the upcoming federal election in September.

Various media, including the newspaper Handelsblatt, report that Sigmar Gabrial, Chairman of the Social Democrats (SPD) as well as SPD state premier of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), Hannelore Kraft, called for cuts of the electricity tax (Stromsteuer) to ease the burden and help consumers. Reportedly, the SPD is thinking of exempting a consumption of up to 1,000 kWh.

The Green party coalition partner in NRW seemed surprised by the SPD proposal, Rheinische Post writes. The party wanted to submit their plans to rein in electricity costs in the near future, the paper says. Reportedly they consist of a new promotion scheme of renewable energy that is more geared to the demand (further details are not yet available). Besides, the electricity trade at the electricity exchange in Leibzig shall be expanded to include green energy to lower costs for consumers, the paper further says. Since renewable energy for which feed-in tariffs in accordance the EEG are being paid is already being marketed at the EEX energy exchange in Leibzig pursuant to the Equalisation Scheme Ordinance (AusglMechV [2]) and the Equalisation Scheme Execution Ordinance (AusglMechAV [3]), it is unclear what is meant by this.

Chancellor Angela Merkel warned of a fundamental reform of the EEG that was “relatively well accepted” by the public, and by which many citizens benefitted, e.g. owners of solar power and biomass plants, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung writes. She called for a gradual amendment of the EEG, saying one should discuss Mr Altmaier’s proposal, which made valuable and important suggestions, the paper says, adding she did not specify when a new concept should be enacted (before or after the federal election in September).

According to the internet site Verivox [4], which provides price comparisons for electricity, electricity prices rose on average by 11% at the beginning of 2013 with 728 of the 854 utilities which supply standard customers with no special supply arrangements (Grundversorgung) increasing prices by an average of 12%. Another 38 utilities announced to raise prices by the same percentage amount in February, Verivox reported in January.

Source: Handelsblatt [5]; Rheinische Post [6]; Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 2 February 2013, page 11

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