Newspaper article International New York Times

Germany Takes Aim at Cost of Green Energy Policy ; Revisions Seek to Stem Price Increases but Still Spur Renewable Sources

Newspaper article International New York Times

Germany Takes Aim at Cost of Green Energy Policy ; Revisions Seek to Stem Price Increases but Still Spur Renewable Sources

Article excerpt

The government wants to slow the rapid expansion of solar and wind parks in an effort to hold down spiraling prices.

Chancellor Angela Merkel's government approved legislation on Tuesday revamping Germany's sweeping plan to generate more than 40 percent of its energy needs through renewable resources by 2025 by slowing the rapid expansion of solar and wind parks in an effort to hold down spiraling prices.

Already, 25 percent of German energy comes from renewable resources, but that advance has come at a cost to consumers, who have borne the brunt of the green surcharges that funded the expansion.

Keeping power prices in check is a key element of the government's revised policy, even as it upholds exemptions for key industries that require high amounts of energy.

"Restart means no longer following the illusion that the energy transformation can be achieved by expanding renewable energy as quickly as possible, but to make sure that the expansion will be safe and predictable," Sigmar Gabriel, the energy and economics minister, said in announcing the changes to the Renewable Energy Sources Act.

In addition, Mr. Gabriel said Berlin had reached an agreement with regulators in Brussels, who had challenged the exemptions on the ground that they violated competition laws within the European Union.

That deal was not reached in time to be included in the draft approved on Tuesday, but will be included in the package before it is put to vote in Parliament that is expected before the August recess.

The broad coalition government of Ms. Merkel's Christian Democrats from the right and the Social Democrats from the left intends that the revisions will reboot a renewable-energy policy adopted more than a decade ago.

Energy prices have risen each year since 2000 to among the highest in Europe, and the policy could lose its popular support if the prices continue to rise.

While Mr. Gabriel said he could not promise that energy prices would go down, he said the goal of the changes was to put the brakes on further increases by scaling back green subsidies and limiting the expansion of onshore wind and solar capacity. …

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