Europe & Africa


EC to probe German fee waivers

The European Commission soon will open a formal investigation into whether exemptions to the renewable energy surcharge (EEG surcharge) granted to energy-intensive industries constitute state aid and are in breach of EU rules.

"We will open an investigation into the German exemption before Christmas," EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said in Brussels yesterday, according to his spokesman Antoine Colombani.

The EC had received a complaint launched by a German association representing private consumers and SMEs.

The surcharge – currently €0.053 ($0.07) per kWh – finances the difference between renewable feed-in tariffs and power prices at the energy exchange. The less heavy industry pays, the more small companies and private households are burdened with additional costs.

Germany’s hitherto opposition Social Democrats (SPD) and Greens have campaigned for narrowing the circle of companies that are granted the exemption, claiming that this could save consumers billions of euros each year.

Germany’s likely next government between the SPD and Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) in its coalition contract has said it will review the exemptions and their level according to European law.

The government had previously rejected the notion that the exemptions from the payment of the renewables surcharge constitute illegal subsidies.