Germany’s Roesler Says Government Should Not Own Power Grids

Germany shouldn’t buy into power grids as such a move is not the best way to manage the energy switch to renewables from nuclear power, according to Economy Minister Philipp Roesler.

The calls for government ownership of power lines are “wrong,” as private investors are eager to finance its modernization, Roesler said today at an energy conference in Berlin.

“All is ready so that the grid expansion can be brought forward,” Roesler said.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government last month backed a plan to lay about 2,800 kilometers (1,740 miles) of new transmission lines and upgrade 2,900 kilometers of existing cables by 2022. The opposition Social Democratic Party called on the government to take control of the grids to eradicate delays in building new lines and connecting offshore wind farms to the network.

Power supply has moved to the center of Germany’s political agenda since Merkel decided in 2011 to replace nuclear reactors with more fossil-fired plants and a growing share of clean-energy sources. Federal grid regulator Bundesnetzagentur says the grids need upgrades as the country adds wind farms and solar parks, whose output varies with the weather.

Roesler said he’s “optimistic” the government can reform Germany’s EEG clean-energy subsidy system before federal elections this fall to reduce surging costs. Owners of wind turbines and solar panels should not be paid subsidies if the power can’t be sold on the market, he said.

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