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German Court Says Industry’s Power Grid Waivers May Need Change

A Dusseldorf Court said the system of waivers power-intensive industries get for using Germany’s power grids may need to change.

Industries including chemical, steel and aluminium companies pay nothing to use the grid network, putting up the transmissions costs of other users by about 20 percent. While the industries are entitled to a discount, a full waiver could be illegal, Presiding Judge Wiegand Laubenstein said today at a hearing at the Higher Regional Court in Dusseldorf.

In addition the way the waivers were introduced for 2011 wasn’t correct, he said.

The waivers cost about 400 million euros ($518 million) in 2011, the court heard. The industries will save about 440 million euros this year and about 805 million euros next year.

German distribution grid operators NRM Netzdienste Rhein-Main GmbH and Stadtwerke Ilmenau GmbH said the rules violate German and European Union laws.

The waivers are unlikely to constitute illegal state aid, according to Laubenstein.

That is an “important point,” said Birgit Ortlieb, director of the VIK association of industrial energy consumers.

The judges’ assessment is preliminary and may change after deliberating arguments, Laubenstein said. The court scheduled a ruling for Nov. 14.

Today’s cases are: OLG Dusseldorf, VI - 3 Kart 65/12 (V), VI - 3 Kart 14/12 (V)

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