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ENERGY

Nuclear suspension faces court challenge by RWE

Energy company RWE has become the first firm to launch a legal challenge against the Merkel government’s controversial three-month suspension of older nuclear reactors.

Nuclear suspension faces court challenge by RWE
Photo: DPA

The firm is fighting the temporary closure of Biblis A plant in Hesse. Renowned legal experts had doubts whether the closure was legal, a company spokesman said late on Thursday.

“We want to clarify that in court,” he said.

The firm will lodge its complaint on Friday to the Kassel administrative court. The spokesman meanwhile said RWE welcomed the announced safety checks on all 17 nuclear power plants.

In the wake of Japan’s nuclear crisis following the devastating tsunami of three weeks ago, Chancellor Angela Merkel announced that Germany’s seven oldest reactors would be closed for three months and the government would conduct a review of nuclear policy over the same period. All nuclear plants would be given fresh safety checks.

The government used the nuclear energy law to back up its decision. According to this law, authorities can call for a suspension if there is deemed to be a danger to life, health or material assets.

Merkel was widely criticized for the suspension, which was a U-turn on her previous policy of extending the lifetimes of nuclear reactors by an average of 12 years. Critics accused her of playing politics ahead of key state elections.

One of its competitors, E.ON, announced it would not mount a challenge against the temporary closure of its reactors Isar I and Unterweser.

“Despite the doubts about the legality, legal disputes should be at the forefront during the moratorium,” the company announced.

E.ON said it wanted to foster a constructive debate rather than rely on a legal challenge.

DAPD/The Local/djw

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ENERGY

German government announces fresh relief package for high energy costs

With Russia's invasion in Ukraine exacerbating high energy and petrol prices, Germany is set to introduce a second relief package to limit the impact on consumers.

German government announces fresh relief package for high energy costs

The additional package of measures was announced by Economy and Climate Protection Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) on Sunday.

Speaking to DPA, Habeck said the wave of price increases throughout the energy sector were becoming increasingly difficult for households to bear.

“Extremely high heating costs, extremely high electricity prices, and extremely high fuel prices are putting a strain on households, and the lower the income, the more so,” he said. “The German government will therefore launch another relief package.”

The costs of heating and electricity have hit record highs in the past few months due to post-pandemic supply issues. 

This dramatic rise in prices has already prompted the government to introduce a range of measures to ease the burden on households, including abolishing the Renewable Energy Act (EEG) levy earlier than planned, offering grants to low-income households and increasing the commuter allowance. 

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: What Germany’s relief package against rising prices means for you

But since Russia invaded neighbouring Ukraine on February 24th, the attack has been driving up energy prices further, Habeck explained.

He added that fears of supply shortages and speculation on the market were currently making the situation worse. 

How will the package work?

When defining the new relief measures, the Economics Ministry will use three criteria, Habeck revealed. 

Firstly, the measures must span all areas of the energy market, including heating costs, electricity and mobility. 

Heating is the area where households are under the most pressure. The ministry estimates that the gas bill for an average family in an unrenovated one-family house will rise by about €2,000 this year. 

Secondly, the package should include measures to help save energy, such as reducing car emissions or replacing gas heating systems.

Thirdly, market-based incentives should be used to ensure that people who use less energy also have lower costs. 

“The government will now put together the entire package quickly and constructively in a working process,” said Habeck.

Fuel subsidy

The three-point plan outlined by the Green Party politician are not the only relief proposals being considered by the government.

According to reports in German daily Bild, Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FPD) is allegedly considering introducing a state fuel subsidy for car drivers.

The amount of the subsidy – which hasn’t yet been defined – would be deducted from a driver’s bill when paying at the petrol station. 

The operator of the petrol station would then have to submit the receipts to the tax authorities later in order to claim the money back. 

Since the start of the war in Ukraine, fuel prices have risen dramatically in Germany: diesel has gone up by around 66 cents per litre, while a litre of E10 has gone up by around 45 cents.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: The everyday products getting more expensive in Germany

As well as support for consumers, the government is currently working on a credit assistance programme to assist German companies that have been hit hard by the EU sanctions against Russia.

As reported by Bild on Saturday, bridging aid is also being discussed for companies that can no longer manage the sharp rise in raw material prices.

In addition, an extension of the shorter working hours (Kurzarbeit) scheme beyond June 30th is allegedly being examined, as well as a further increase in the commuter allowance.

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