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ENERGY

Bavaria demands share of revenues for residents living near wind farms

Following a ruling by the German Constitutional Court, the Bavarian Economics Minister has called on the federal government to implement rules that will give local residents a share of wind farm revenues.

Wind turbines behind the A63 highway in Rheinland-Pfalz.
Wind turbines behind the A63 highway in Rheinland-Pfalz. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Boris Roessler

On Thursday, the German Constitutional Court gave the green light for regulations that oblige operators to involve local residents and municipalities in wind farm projects and for them to receive financial compensation.

Following the ruling, Bavaria’s Minister of Economic Affairs, Hubert Aiwanger is calling on the federal government to introduce uniform rules to make this happen.

“I expect the federal government to promptly pass a law that regulates the participation of wind power residents in a mandatory manner and, if possible, uniformly throughout Germany,” he told the German Press Agency. Instead of the current 0.2 cents per kilowatt hour, the municipalities should receive 0.4 cents nationwide, he said.

By giving local authorities and residents near wind turbines a share of the revenue, he said, there would be more acceptance for the energy-producing facilities.

READ ALSO: Germany to speed up green energy projects in ‘gigantic’ effort

“We need the acceptance of local authorities in the further development of regional wind power plants and the acceptance of local residents,” Aiwanger said. The economy urgently needs more wind power for its own energy supply, he added.

“If nothing comes from the federal government in a timely manner, we in Bavaria will have to take action ourselves,” said Aiwanger. At the same time, he warned against different participation rules across states, as this could lead to wind energy being more profitable for investors in one federal state than in another.

Following the ruling, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania’s Minister President Manuela Schwesig (SPD) also called for the federal government to “now very quickly finally introduce this obligation to involve local people nationwide.”

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ENERGY

Should tenants in Germany be shielded from energy price hikes?

Gas prices have more than tripled in the past year, prompting tenants' rights advocates to call for more social support and a cap on energy costs.

Should tenants in Germany be shielded from energy price hikes?

The German’s Tenants’ Association is calling on the government to put together a new energy relief package to help renters deal with spiralling energy costs.

Gas has become an increasing scarce resource in Germany, with the Economics Ministry raising the alert level recently after Russia docked supplies by 60 percent.

The continued supply issues have caused prices to skyrocket. According to the German import prices published on Thursday, natural gas was three times as expensive in May 2022 as it was in May a year ago.

In light of the exploding prices, the German Tenants’ Association is putting the government under pressure to offer greater relief for renters.

READ ALSO: 

Proposals on the table include a moratorium on terminating tenancy agreements and a permanent heating cost subsidy for all low-income households.

The Tenants’ Association has argued that nobody should face eviction for being unable to cope with soaring bills and is urging the government to adjust housing benefits in line with the higher prices. 

Gas price cap

Renters’ advocates have also joined a chorus of people advocating for a cap on consumer gas prices to prevent costs from rising indefinitely.

Recently, Frank Bsirske, a member of the parliamentary Green Party and former head of the trade union Verdi, spoke out in favour of capping prices. Bavaria’s economics minister and Lower Saxony’s energy minister have also advocated for a gas price cap in the past. 

According to the tenants’ association, the vast majority of tenants use gas for heating and are directly affected by recent price increases.

At the G7 summit in Bavaria this week, leaders of the developed nations discussed plans for a coordinated cut in oil prices to prevent Russia from reaping the rewards of the energy crisis. 

In an initiative spearheaded by the US, the group of rich nations agreed to task ministers will developing a proposal that would see consumer countries refusing to pay more than a set price for oil imports from Russia.

READ ALSO: Germany and G7 to ‘develop a price cap’ on Russian oil

A gas price cap would likely be carried out on a more national level, with the government regulating how much of their costs energy companies can pass onto consumers. 

Strict contract laws preventing sudden price hikes mean that tenants in Germany are unlikely to feel the full force of the rising gas prices this year

However, the Tenant’s Association pointed out that, if there is a significant reduction in gas imports, the Federal Network Agency could activate an emergency clause known as the price adjustment clause.

This would allow gas suppliers to pass on higher prices to their customers at short notice. 

The Tenants’ Association has warned that the consequences of an immediate market price adjustment, if it happens, should be legally regulated and socially cushioned.

In the case of the price adjustment clause being activated, the government would have to regulate the costs that companies were allowed to pass onto consumers to prevent social upheaval. 

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