German Rail CEO Warns of Cancellations If Datteln Power Plant Is Shut Down in December

In an interview with Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung (WAZ) Deutsche Bahn CEO Rüdiger Grube called on the state of North Rhine Westphalia to decide quickly about postponing the shutdown of the Datteln power plant that provides 75% of the 16.7 Hz railway power. Up to 30% of the train services might have to be cancelled on cold days should Datteln go offline in December, he said.

The permits for E.ON AG coal-fired units 1 to 3 in Datteln (and the Shamrock power plant in Herne) expire at the end of 2012. In 2006 E.ON had declared not to continue operating the plants beyond 31 December 2012, thus avoiding to comply with new requirements to retrofit the plants as of 1 January 2011. In late 2010 E.ON tried to withdraw these declarations following a decision by the Higher Administrative Court of Münster (OVG Münster) that stopped construction of the planned new Datteln 4 power plant (please see below). In two rulings handed down this year OVG Münster, decided that E.ON could not withdraw its declaration to discontinue operation for units 1 to 3.

E.ON intends to replace the Datteln 1 to 3 power units by the new, more efficient Datteln 4 power plant. However, in September 2009 the Higher Administrative Court in Münster (Oberverwaltungsgericht Münster – OVG) revoked the zoning plan (Bebauungsplan) for the area in which the Datteln 4 project is situated. Currently efforts are under way to set up a new zoning plan, but it is not yet clear if and when E.ON can continue construction. In June this year OVG Münster revoked the preliminary permit (Vorbescheid) for Datteln 4.

To provide German Rail with current, E.ON is building a transformer, Mr Grube said. However, it would take until the beginning of 2014 before the transformer would be operational.

Rheinische Post meanwhile quoted NRW Economics Minister Garrelt Duin as saying the state was urgently checking the possibilities of an extension of the permit for E.ON’s power plant units 1 to 3 under the applicable laws. At the same time, the state was exploring fall-back options for an electricity supply of German rail, which included talks with the Essen-based utility Steag. A round table talk with the utilities shall take place on 5 November 2012, according to Rheinische Post.

Source: WAZ, Rheinische Post

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