Merkel Ally Says Coalition With SPD to Ease Energy Reform

Germany’s chances of easing its transition to renewable energy are rising as Chancellor Angela Merkel negotiates a coalition with the Social Democrats, a lawmaker from her conservative bloc said.

Merkel’s CDU/CSU bloc shares more ground with the Social Democrats, or SPD, than with the Free Democrats when it comes to reforming clean-energy legislation, said Georg Nuesslein, energy spokesman for the CSU faction in parliament. “It will be easier because the ideological trench warfare won’t be as fierce.”

Merkel’s conservatives and the SPD today agreed to open formal coalition talks. The chancellor has pledged to reduce the cost of renewable-energy subsidies, easing the shift to clean power after deciding to close all nuclear plants. Disagreements between the CDU and the FDP previously posed obstacles to reshaping the laws that grant support to wind and solar power.

The SPD backs a CSU proposal to change the way Germany calculates a fee it charges consumers to finance the subsidies, Nuesslein said today by telephone. The fee has risen more than fivefold since 2009, helping to make German household power bills the second-highest in the European Union, data from Eurostat show. It’s set to increase 18 percent next year.

While Merkel’s bloc won’t make retroactive changes to already promised aid, the government could, for example, identify locations for new wind farms and then auction off projects to reduce costs, Nuesslein said. Germany also will need to set up a capacity market, which pays utilities to guarantee backup power when renewable output falls short, he said.

In the outgoing government, Environment Minister Peter Altmaier of Merkel’s CDU and Economy Minister Philipp Roesler of the FDP repeatedly clashed over aspects of the energy switch.

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