“Spiegel”: eu takes aim at rebates for electricity-intensive companies

Brussels officials have long had their sights set on the extensive exemption of electricity-intensive industries. Eu competition commissioner joaquin almunia suspects illegal aid. Next wednesday, according to the news magazine, the procedure will be initiated.

If the investigation comes to this conclusion, exemptions from the levy under the renewable energy sources act (EEG) could be prohibited. In the worst case scenario, there is also the threat of a backlash correction. Energy-intensive companies then had to pay millions of euros in back taxes to the state that had been saved in previous years.

The federal environment ministry said on sunday that no formal decision had been taken in brussel to open the procedure. "There is also a consensus that the EEG must be further developed. An amendment is to be tackled immediately after the election," a spokeswoman said.

Through the eco-electricity levy, electricity customers help finance the legally fixed compensation rates for wind and solar farms, biogas plants and hydroelectric power plants. Energy-intensive companies are exempt from the levy.

BDI president ulrich grillo once again issued an urgent warning against the exodus of industrial companies from germany due to excessively high electricity prices. "If our energy prices are permanently much higher than those of our competitors, germany will have a huge problem," grillo told the "rheinische post" (saturday). Hundreds of thousands of jobs are at stake. "The energy-intensive industry alone employs over 900,000 people. This industry will have to migrate in the medium term if it does not find competitive energy prices here in the long term," warned the president of the federation of german industries (BDI).

Tobias austrup, energy expert from greenpeace, however, spoke of climate policy at the expense of electricity customers. The criticism from brussels is a slap in the face for economics minister philipp rosler (FDP) and environment minister peter altmaier (CDU). The federal government must stop the unjustified industrial privileges.

Up to 1. July 2367 enterprises requested a reduction in the demand costs for the development of renewable energies, according to an answer of the federal government to a question of the grunen parliamentary group. These include cement and paper factories, tramways and feed manufacturers, among others. In 2012, there were 2055 companies, in 2011 only 813.

The greens see a critical limit reached. "The relief for companies in the expansion of renewables will add up to around seven billion euros this year," said the deputy chairwoman of the grunen in the bundestag, barbel hohn, to the "ruhr nachrichten" (saturday). Private households in particular had to pay for this, because the total costs were spread over fewer shoulders. The energy transition must be financed more fairly.

In march, the EU commission had already initiated a review procedure on a similar topic – this concerned the exemption from network charges for the energy-intensive sector. European competition watchdogs fear that state aid is involved. A decision on this is still pending.

State aid to companies in europe requires approval by the eu commission. The aim is to prevent companies from gaining unauthorized advantages over competitors through the support they receive.

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