Nuclear Power Moratorium: Suspension of Energy and Climate Fund Payments

The  nuclear power plant operators are reported to have suspended payments into the Energy and Climate fund for the time of the government’s 3-month nuclear power moratorium.

According to Handelsblatt, the four nuclear power utilities E.ON AG, RWE AG, EnBW AG and Vattenfall Europe informed the government last Friday of a suspension of their payments into the Energy and Climate Fund. The companies reportedly argue that payments are linked to the nuclear power extension.  Handelsblatt  quotes a government spokeswoman as saying the government would also examine the financial impact of the moratorium. A final analysis could only be made when the government had decided about a realignment of its energy policy. This might possibly lead to an amendment of the agreements with the utilities.

With the votes of the ruling Conservative/Liberal coalition parliament had passed a new Energy Concept last October. The Atomic Energy Act (AtG) was amended to extend the operating times of the seventeen German nuclear power plants. Concurrently, a new special purpose energy and climate fund was established by the Energy and Climate Fund Act (Gesetz zur Errichtung eines Sondervermögens “Energie- und Klimafonds” – EKFG). The fund shall promote an environmentally-friendly, reliable and affordable energy supply.

A substantial part of the fund’s revenue was intended to come from the Promotion Fund Agreement (Förderfondsvertrag) , a contractual agreement between the the state and the operators of the German nuclear power plants. In the Promotion Fund Agreement, the nuclear power plant operators agreed to pay promotion contributions (Förderbeiträge) for additional nuclear power generation starting 1 January 2017. In connection with the extension of the operating times, the operators agreed to make prepayments of EUR 300 million into the fund in 2011 to 2013, and EUR 200 million from 2013 to 2016. The current supension of payments relates to the prepayments unter the Promotion Fund Agreement.

Following the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the German government announced a 3-month moratorium on the nuclear power extension. The seven oldest nuclear power plants have been temporarily shut down pending safety checks for all 17 German nuclear power plants. Chancellor Merkel said she couldn’t exclude the possibility that the inspections would have an impact on the operational life spans of the nuclear power plants.

Sources: Handelsblatt; Bundesregierung

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