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ENERGY

Nuke shutdown costs energy giant €1 billion

RWE, Germany's second biggest-power supplier, said Tuesday earnings last year were hit by a one-billion-euro ($1.3-billion) charge related to the shutdown of some of its nuclear power plants.

Nuke shutdown costs energy giant €1 billion
Photo: DPA

RWE said in a statement its net profit fell by 33.9 percent to €2.479 billion last year and operating profit declined by 24.3 percent to €5.814 billion on a 3.1-percent drop in revenues to €51.686 billion.

“For us, fiscal 2011 was marked by difficult economic and political framework conditions,” RWE said. “The German government’s nuclear energy decisions alone had a negative impact on the result of well over one billion euros.”

In the wake of the nuclear disaster in Fukushima, Japan, last year, the German government decided to phase out nuclear power, forcing energy suppliers to shut down their profitable large-scale power plants and also levying a tax on the reactors’ fuel for their remaining lifespan.

In addition, lower sales prices on the gas wholesale market and “persistently low margins in the electricity generating business all had an adverse effect on business performance,” the group complained.

Nevertheless, chief executive Juergen Grossmann said RWE had undertaken measures “to get us through the trough quickly.”

RWE was “therefore confident of maintaining the level of the previous year in 2012,” he said, predicting that the trend would also continue into 2013 when “we still expect to be on a par with the result of 2011 this year, too.”

AFP/bk

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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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