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Increased Applications for Renewable Surcharge Reduction in 2014

Record applications by large electricity consumers for reductions of the renewable energy surcharge (EEG surcharge) worth up to EUR 5 billion for 2014 might further increase the burden for the remaining electricity consumers, several newspapers and website report, based on an answer of the government to a minor interpellation by Alliance ’90/The Greens.

The EEG surcharge for 2013 amounts to 5.277 ct/kWh, after having steadily and often steeply risen over the last years (A table showing the development of the EEG surcharge can be found here [1]). Given the above market price feed-in tariffs for renewable energy paid pursuant to the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG) and the steadily growing amount of renewable energy in Germany it is expected to rise again significantly in 2014 [2]. It could then be about twice as high as the market price of 27.63 EUR/MWh the four transmission system operators averaged in June [3]for the sale of renewable energy at the European Energy Exchange.

While ordinary electricity customers have to pay the EEG surcharge in full, the surcharge can be limited upon application for manufacturing enterprises if the electricity purchased from an electricity supplier and used by the enterprises themselves amounted at least 1 GWh at a certain delivery point in the last fiscal year and the ratio of the electricity costs to be borne by the enterprise compared to its gross value added was at least 14%. For a consumption exceeding 1 GWh up to 10 GWh the EEG surcharge is limited to 10%. It is further limited to 1% for a consumption of more than 10 GWh up to 100 GWh and amounts to 0.05 ct/kWh for a consumption exceeding 100 GWh (cf. Section 41 EEG).

2,357 companies have reportedly applied for EEG surcharge limitations in 2014 (2013: 2,055 applications) for 3,458 delivery points (2013: 3,184). Yet the numbers could still rise as they include only applications made electronically, SZ says. Applicants mostly come from the food industry, plastic manufacturers and the chemicals industry. However, it has often been criticised that applicants also come from other industries that are not subject to international competition. According to estimates, the reductions could add up to EUR 5 billion, SZ points out.

In the past the government and the opposition failed to contain the rising EEG surcharge [4] before the upcoming federal election in September. If, when and to what extent EU law might (also) force a change of the EEG remains to be seen. The Commission [5] is in the process of investigating compliance of the EEG feed-in tariff scheme and the EEG surcharge exemptions with EU state-aid and free movement of goods rules. At the same time three middle-sized textile companies have brought lawsuits against the EEG surcharge, which they consider unconstitutional. They have announced [6]to go all the way to the Federal Constitutional Court.

Source: Süddeutsche Zeitung [7]; Spiegel Online [8]; BT-Drs 17/13991

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