Green Party Warns of Rising Grid Fees

In preparation for an upcoming Bundestag decision on amendments to Electricity Grid Charges Ordinance (StromNEV), Alliance ‘9o/The Greens commissioned a study on the costs for the grid fee exemptions of large energy consumers. According to this study, the volume of exemptions could rise from EUR 805 million this year to EUR 1 billion to 1.2 billion, despite government efforts to contain the costs.

Thus far Section 19 para. 2 sent. 2 Electricity Grid Charges Ordinance (StromNEV), which was amended in 2011, provides that certain large electricity consumers can apply for an exemption of grid charges if the electricity consumption at a delivery point (Abnahmestelle) exceeds 7,000 hours and 10 GW. The provision had drawn criticism from various sources, not least consumer protection agencies. The Higher Regional Court of recently held that the provision was void, and the European Commission launched an inquiry regarding European state aid rules.

In late May the government adopted an amendment of Section 19 para. 2 StromNEV, which shall reintroduce staggered reductions of the grid fees, leading to grid fees of 10 to 20%. The amendment is on the agenda of the 912th session of the Bundesrat (Federal Council), the legislative body that represents the interests of the sixteen German states, on the federal level on Friday 5 July 2013.

Yet even if the retightening of the StromNEV provision wins approval by the Bundesrat, grid fees for consumers may still increase, the study says, giving three reasons:

  1. The amendments foreseen may be offset by  “a large number of new applications” for grid fee limitations.
  2. The study expects grid fees to rise by 10 to 20% next year due to costs for connecting off-shore wind farms and back-up power plants for volatile renewable input. This would lead to an increase in electricity costs of 0.6 to 1.2 ct/kWh and a proportional increase of the costs for the grid fee reductions in the range of EUR 80 to 160 million.
  3. Furthermore consumers will still have to pay fees for 2012, the study says. The surcharge for that year was calculated in 2011. Many large electricity users submitted applications thereafter. Hence the surcharge did not cover the costs. The deficit will be charged with the surcharge for 2014. The study expects additional costs of EUR 150 to 200 million.

The authors of the study emphasise that it was hard to predict the actual surcharge for lost grid fees for 2014 as it depended on a number of criteria. Besides, they say that it was difficult to predict the number of applications for grid fee reductions and the quantity of exempted electricity.

According to Der Spiegel, Alliance ’90/The Greens (who have been critical of the grid fee exemptions and limitations) would like to stop the StromNEV amendment in the Bundesrat on Friday.

Source: Spiegel Online, Die Grünen

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