Merkel Ally Calls for End to Clean-Energy Priority on Power Grid

Germany shouldn’t force power-grid operators to prioritize the distribution and sale of clean energy, according to an ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel.

It’s no longer necessary to give new renewable-energy plants preference because clean-power growth targets can be met regardless, said Thuringia Premier Christine Lieberknecht, an executive board member of Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union.

Lieberknecht’s call is the most vocal yet within the CDU to end incentives that have made Germany Europe’s biggest clean-energy market. It indicates that all aspects of the subsidy system are up for review after Sept. 22 elections. Politicians from all parties have urged action to bring down consumer power bills following a boom in solar and wind generation.

“There can’t be an undamped priority grid access for renewables anymore,” Lieberknecht said yesterday in an interview in Erfurt. “We now have to create an incentive system to make sure that renewables are integrated into the market.”

As recently as June, Merkel pledged to retain preferential grid access for new renewable plants. The policy, known as the Einspeisevorrang, requires grid companies to connect renewable-energy units to the network and buy and distribute their power regardless of fluctuations in demand.

Merkel has already promised to reform legislation underpinning the Energiewende, Germany’s 550 billion-euro ($743 billion) plan to wean the country off nuclear energy and more than triple the share of renewables to account for 80 percent of the power mix by 2050.

There must be a “national plan” for boosting renewables to make sure projects in Germany’s 16 states are aligned with grid expansion, Lieberknecht said. Wind turbines, for example, should be built only where sufficient power lines exist, instead of forcing utilities to add them afterward, she said.

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