27 Feb 2020, 14:10
Freja Eriksen

Law firm calls German coal exit law 'unconstitutional,' Greens push for earlier plant closures

Welt / Tagesspiegel Background

A legal opinion by the energy law firm Rosin Büdenbender identifies "numerous conceptual flaws" in the draft legislation outlining Germany’s coal exit, reports Daniel Wetzel for Die Welt. In an expert opinion for power plant operator Steag, the law firm criticises the disparate treatment of hard coal and lignite operations: the legislation would use auctions to implement hard coal capacity reductions until 2026 while lignite-fired power plant operators would receive compensation payments based on agreements with the government and affected states. This proposal is at odds with the recommendations of the coal exit commission, which proposed reaching consensus with power plant operators on compensation payments, said the law firm. The law firm says that the legislation violates the principle of equal treatment, the protection of property and trust in the law, and warns that it could lead to years of litigation.

The Green Party is also criticising the coal exit law, and will work to make changes to the legislation through its influence in the council of state governments, the Bundesrat, writes Tagesspiegel Background. The party aims to shut down some lignite plants earlier in the process and hopes to prevent the new hard coal power plant Datteln 4 from going online this summer. Both the shutdown schedule and the plan to allow Datteln 4 to go online have been criticised by former members of the coal exit commission. The Greens also want to make sure that there will be no systematic discrimination between lignite and hard coal plants, proposing that auctions are extended until 2030 and that decomissions within this period of time would have to be compensated.

Chancellor Angela Merkel's cabinet adopted the law detailing plant shutdowns and compensation payments for coal companies in January. Hard coal plant operators have criticised the plans, as the relatively late shutdown dates for lignite facilities likely mean earlier closures for hard coal. The government aims to pass final legislation on the coal exit in the first half of this year (2020).

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