EEG 2.0 Status: Last Minute European Law Based Change Requests?

According to media reports by various newspapers and magazines, last minute changes to the bills amending the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG) due to be read in Parliament on Friday may be necessary to meet concerns raised by the commision regarding compliance of the law with EU state aid rules. Reportedly, the Commission inter alia demanded that not only new renewable power plants will (partially) have to pay the renewables surcharge (EEG surcharge) but after a grace period ending 2016 also existing plants.

Initially the Economics and Energy Ministry wanted to make not only new plants for self-use contribute 90% of the EEG surcharge, but also freeze the EEG exemption for existing plants on the 2013 EEG-surcharge level, so that plants would have had to pay for a rising surcharge (for more information, please see here). In talks with the federal states, the government made concessions.

The EEG reform bill (EEG 2014, also referred to as EEG 2.0) therefore exempts existing power plants from the EEG surcharge, contains certain exemptions for new power plants, in particular small plants with an installed capacity of up to 10 kW and provides for a reduction of the EEG surcharge for power generated in new power plants as follows:

  • 50% reduction for renewable power plants in the sense of the EEG and highly efficient CHP plants defined in the provision;
  • 85 % reduction for all other power plants  if the consumer, who uses self-generated energy is a manufacturing company as defined in the provision (irrespective of the form of electricity generated).

Due to concerns because of the above-mentioned differentiation, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung recently reported that the ministry was thinking of levying a uniform 40% surcharge. Now the paper says a new scheme is envisaged whereby power plants generating electricity that is self-consumed by operators with high electricity costs have to pay a 15% surcharge, renewable power plants and CHP plants have to pay a 50% surcharge and conventional power plants a 100% surcharge.

The tight schedule for the EEG reform that shall enter into force on 1 August 2014 seems to require a quick response by the German government (and a revised proposal for the parliamentary debate) if it does not want to risk another investigation by Brussels into the EEG. More information is likely to emerge after today’s meeting of the Economics Committee of Parliament. Due to unresolved issues, the Bundestag’s Committee for Economic Affairs and Energy cancelled its press conference  scheduled for earlier today. In any event, there will hardly be any time from Members of Parliament to properly consider the last minute changes.

Furthermore, the changes will have to be considered by the Federal Council. Normally, the Federal Council has three weeks to do this, as Art. 77(2)(1) Basic Law says:

“Within three weeks after receiving an adopted bill, the Bundesrat may demand that a committee for joint consideration of bills, composed of Members of the Bundestag and of the Bundesrat, be convened.”

Since the last meeting of the Bundesrat before the summer recess is scheduled for 11 July 2014, the Federal Council has to agree to a shortening of the three week period. Assuming Parliament passes a revised law as planned on Friday (27 June), the next meeting of the Federal Council’s Ständiger Beirat (Permanent Advisory Committee) that could agree to a shortening of the three week period and put it on the agenda for 11 July is due to meet on 2 July. The draft agenda for the 11 July sitting of the Bundesrat that was published today does not yet contain the EEG 2.0 package.

Source: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung; Spiegel Online

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