Glos says German grid company may start small

Green Energy

A company bundling Germany’s long-distance power grids may start as a small venture that does not have to comprise all four major grids at the start, German Economy Minster Michael Glos said on Monday.

Politicians as well as E.ON and RWE, the country’s largest utilities, are in favor of creating a bundled power grid to facilitate access to customers and increase competition, but have so far failed to agree on such a venture. Finding an accord to bundle the power grids -- vital infrastructure for Europe’s largest economy -- may be easier if just two of the four large German utilities are involved.

E.ON and RWE own two of the grids and the other two are run by Vattenfall and EnBW Energie Baden-Wuerttemberg. “The grid company may well start with only some operators merging their networks,” Glos said at a conference. The minister was also in favor of including grids in neighboring countries, he said.

But RWE CEO Juergen Grossmann on Monday reiterated that the utility would not give up control of its power grid and follow the examples of Vattenfall and E.ON, which are selling their power networks in Germany. RWE has said it would be ready to lead an energy grid company but would not sell its own grid. German magazine Der Spiegel reported that E.ON and Vattenfall are working on a joint scenario to sell their 10,000 km of high-voltage power grids to one financial buyer, building the foundations for a German power network company that politicians are asking for.

Glos, a conservative, reiterated he was in favor of reversing Germany’s planned phase-out of nuclear energy and extending the lifespan of nuclear plants, but said the government may put conditions on such a measure. “One condition could be that extra profits have to be paid into a fund,” he said. Turning to emissions trading, Glos said companies which need a lot of energy, such as in the chemical sector, should have a lower cost burden in the next trading cycle of the European Union’s carbon market from 2013.

The EU’s executive Commission has proposed to force power generators to buy carbon emissions permits from 2013, rather than get some free as now, and is mulling the competitiveness implications of requiring the same of wider industry. Germany’s relationship with its main energy supplier, Russia, must not be threatened, but the country should seek to get access to energy from other countries, the minister said. (Reuters)

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