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13 Aug 2020, 13:25
Kerstine Appunn

German industry fears higher power bills due to COVID-19 production slump

Handelsblatt

Pandemic-related decreases in production and sales could hit some German companies even harder if they are faced with higher power bills due to losing their exemption from paying the renewable energy surcharge, writes Klaus Stratmann in Handelsblatt.

Energy intensive companies of different sizes in Germany are partially exempt from paying the renewables levy on the electricity they use but they have to prove that their production is indeed “energy intsensive”. Stefan Sinne, auditor at Warth & Klein Grant Thornton in Düsseldorf told Handelsblatt that undercutting the minimum power use of one gigawatt-hour at a certain consumption point could easily result in considerable losses as the company would in that instance not qualify as being “energy intensive” anymore. The sudden loss of the exemption would "mean the final blow for many", Reinhold von Eben-Worlée, president of the Family Business Association told Handelsblatt, saying that it wasn’t only large energy-intensive companies that were endangered but also many medium-sized enterprises.

Economy minister Peter Altmaier (CDU) has promised in the past to resolve this problem and could use the upcoming amendment of the Renewable Energy Act (EEG) in the autumn to provide relief to the affected companies, Stratmann writes.

The EEG surcharge (currently around 6 cents per kilowatt-hour) is added to consumer (industry and household) bills in proportion to their power consumption and provides the financial means with which electricity from renewable sources is remunerated. In 2018, a total of 2,156 companies were exempt from paying the full renewable energy surcharge on a combined 110,500 GWh, according to data from the Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control (BAFA). To comply with EU state aid rules, only companies that are competing internationally are permitted to be exempt.

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