German and Austrian Energy Providers File Legal Action Against Hinkley Point C State Aid Approval

Ten municipal utilities and green power providers on 15 July 2015 filed a legal action with the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg against the state aid approval by the European Commission for the Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant in the United Kingdom.

1. Lawsuit

Nine German and Austrian utilities (Energieversorgung Filstal, Stadtwerke Aalen, Stadtwerke Bietigheim-Bissingen, Stadtwerke Bochum, Stadtwerke Mainz AG, Stadtwerke Mühlacker, Stadtwerke Schwäbisch Hall GmbH, Stadtwerke Tübingen and oekostrom AG) and Greenpeace Energy have filed a lawsuit against the controversial positive decision of the Commission that concluded modified UK measures for the Hinkley Point nuclear power plant are compatible with EU rules.

Soenke Tangermann, managing director of Greenpeace Energy said he wanted the European Court of Justice to annul the EU Commission’s decision because the “exorbitant nuclear subsidies” constitute unlawful operational aid.

2. EUR 108 Billion in State Aid?

Greenpeace commissioned its own study by Energy Brainpool to substantiates their concerns.  According to this Energy Brainpool study the state-guaranteed remuneration for the nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point C together with other nuclear power plants projects would amount to EUR 108 billion. The claimants are concernd that such state aid package could distort the European energy market and will affect the German market through the European cross-border exchange in electricity. Energy Brainpool’s used 3 scenarios (Hinkley”, „Hinkley+” and „Domino+”). Its calculations suggest that nuclear power plants currently “under planning” in six European Union member states could lower the wholesale price of electricity in Germany by as much as 11.8% in the “Domino+” scenario. In such case the competitiveness of green power suppliers will decline. The market value of wind power plants will drop by up to 10,4 percentage points in the “Domino+” scenario (but only by 0.48 in the “Hinkley” scenario).

Mr. Dr. Achim Koetzle, executive director of energy management at Tübingen’s municipal utility therefore warned: “We see the danger that European electricity markets in future could be flooded with highly subsidised nuclear power, and that regional, highly efficient and ecological power production will be driven out of business”. From the perspective of municipal utilities, the economic viability of decentralised power generation plants would in particular suffer from the planned nuclear subsidies.”

Sources: Stadtwerke Mainz, Stadtwerke Tübingen, Brainpool StudyIWR article

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