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ENERGY

Vattenfall sues Germany over nuke power move

Swedish power group Vattenfall said Thursday it was joining bigger rivals E.ON and RWE in filing a complaint with Germany's top court seeking compensation for Berlin's decision to abandon nuclear power.

Vattenfall sues Germany over nuke power move

“We have recently lodged a complaint with the Constitutional Court,” a spokeswoman for Germany’s third biggest nuclear energy producer told AFP.

The spokeswoman stressed that the complaint was not against the decision to ditch nuclear power per se but against the requirement to shut down reactors early, which they say infringes their proprietary rights.

The move follows similar complaints lodged in April by RWE and in November by E.ON.

All three companies have already seen profits fall sharply.

In the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan, Berlin 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.

Vattenfall has previously claimed it stands to lose €700 million ($957 million) it had invested in the nuclear power stations Krümmel and Brunsbüttel after the government originally agreed to extend the life-spans of its nuclear power stations.

Both of those reactors were shut down permanently earlier this year after Angela Merkel’s government performed a dramatic U-turn following the Fukushima disaster.

Germany’s last nuclear power stations are set to be shut down permanently in 2022.

Vattenfall said it was seeking “appropriate compensation” from Germany for expected losses caused by the nuclear reversal.

Germany’s biggest power utility E.ON has said it wants at least €8.0 billion.

AFP/The Local

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ENERGY

Sweden’s parties agree on goal to cut peak power consumption

Sweden's Social Democrat caretaker government has agreed with the incoming Moderates on a goal of cutting peak power consumption by 5 percent as part of an EU scheme.

Sweden's parties agree on goal to cut peak power consumption

Now the election is over, both parties seem willing to consider ways to encourage citizens to reduce power use, an obvious measure to reduce winter power prices that was conspicuously absent from the campaign. 

At the same time, the Moderates are downplaying their election campaign pledge to bring in “high-cost protection” to reimburse citizens for much of the impact of high power costs by the start of November. 

At a meeting of the parliament’s Committee on Industry and Trade, the two parties agreed that both the caretaker Social Democrat government and the incoming Moderate-led government should take action to cut power consumption by between 5 percent and 10 percent. 

“If we succeed in carrying this out on a coordinated EU level, we will be on the way to at the very least halving electricity prices,” Energy minister Khashayar Farmanbar told Sweden’s TT newswire. 

“We stand behind the ambition to reduce consumption,” agreed Carl-Oskar Bohlin, the Moderate Party’s power spokesperson, after a meeting of the committee on Wednesday. 

But he said that meeting the goal would be very much dependent on outside factors, particularly how cold the winter is in Sweden. 

“Then there are questions of how that should happen practically in real terms,” he said. “In Sweden, electricity use is largely dependent on the outside temperature. If we have a mild winter, it will be extremely easy to hit the 5 percent target, if we have a really harsh winter, it might be impossible.”

The Moderates are agreed that the public sector should reduce “unnecessary power consumption”, but have yet to agree on measures that households should take, such as reducing indoor temperatures or turning off the lights. 

At the same time, Bohlin admitted on Wednesday that the high-cost protection that Ulf Kristersson pledged in the campaign by November 1st, may be delayed by the government negotiations. 

“We promised high-cost protection from November 1st, on the condition that a new government was in place rapidly,” he told the Svenska Dagbladet newspaper. “The problem is that Svenska kraftnät [the company that owns and operates Sweden’s power grid], is working to another schedule, one given by the current government.” 

The outgoing Social Democrat government has given Svenska kraftnät until November 15th to propose a system for high-cost protection. The cash paid back to households and businesses would be taken from the bottle-neck income which the grid operator receives as a result of capacity shortages in the network. 

The outgoing Social Democrats have also changed their rhetoric since the end of the campaign .

On September 9th, two days before the election took place, the Social Democrat government framed a meeting of EU ministers on September 9th as a “breakthrough” in the EU negotiations. 

Farmanbar is now describing it as “a process”. 

“What we can promise right now is that we’re going to work as hard as we can to get a breakthrough,” he said. 

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