07 Oct 2019, 14:29
Benjamin Wehrmann

Legal loophole allowed German companies to avoid paying billions in renewables support – media

Der Spiegel

Hundreds of companies may have used a loophole in Germany's Renewable Energy Act to avoid paying their share of the country's renewables support - and passed on the energy transition bill to private power customers instead, Frank Dohmen writes in Der Spiegel. Germany's grid operators hired a law firm to find out whether some of the companies saved billions of euros in power costs by using a so-called "own power privilege" clause that frees companies from paying the renewables surcharge if they produce electricity with their own power plants rather than drawing it from the grid. Operators then split up the capacity of their plants and leased these shares to their own customers, making them partial plant owners who are also exempt from the surcharge, Dohmen writes. According to the article, the power trading models of chemical company Bayer, carmaker Daimler, energy companies RWE and EnBW and many small and medium-sized companies are being analysed by legal experts to decide whether reclaims for avoided payments are admissible. "It seems certain that there will be a legal dispute and that both sides are ready to carry the fight to the court of last resort, given the immense volume of possible reclaims," Dohmen writes.

Electricity prices in Germany are amongst the highest in the world, mostly due to taxes and fees such as the renewables surcharge, which currently stands at 6.4 cents per kilowatt hour. However, many companies get exemptions, especially if they are energy-intensive and in international competition.

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