Coal, Nuclear

Germany’s Schroeder, Utilities to Hold Energy Talks

Aug. 12, 2003 — German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder will meet the heads of the country’s four biggest utilities on Thursday for discussions on the sector ahead of a key report later this month on Germany’s future energy needs.

E.ON Chief Executive Wulf Bernotat, RWE chief Harry Roels, Vattenfall Europe head Klaus Rauscher and Energie Baden-Wuerttemberg chief Utz Claasen will take part in the talks with Schroeder and Economy Minister Wolfgang Clement.

Business daily Handelsblatt said the talks would focus on new EU rules on carbon dioxide emissions trading, replacements for nuclear and coal power generating stations that will come out of service in coming years and industry regulation.

A government spokesman on Monday confirmed the talks would take place but gave no details beyond saying they would deal with the general economic situation of the industry and that subjects including power prices and European regulation could also come up.

The government is due to present a so-called Monitoring report on future energy policy on August 31.

As well as dealing with Germany’s future energy needs including replacements for nuclear power, the report is expected to discuss industry regulation in the run-up to plans to install a new national energy regulator by the middle of next year.

Utilities have been pressing for coal and gas to keep their key role in the mix, with the backing of Clement, a former premier of the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia, home to much of Germany’s coal industry.

Environment Minister Juergen Trittin, who has backed a greater role for renewable energy sources such as wind and solar energy, will not take part in the talks but the spokesman said this was normal with an industry meeting of this kind.

The paper said the energy industry faced investments of some EUR30 to 40 billion in the coming years to replace ageing coal power stations and make up for the planned withdrawal from nuclear power.

A spokeswoman declined to confirm reports that regulation of the industry would be transferred to post and telecommunications regulator RegTP, saying only that this was one option under consideration.

“The correct form of regulation and control of network access and organisation and of a regulator is still being considered,” she said at a regular government news conference.