Most of you are probably unaware of the German policies discussed below, so here’s a quick intro for context: Germany decided sometime back that certain industries and companies would be exempt from certain portions of a typical customer’s electricity bill — those include grid fees and renewable energy surcharges. The argument was that the extra fees weakened the international competitiveness of German firms. In actuality, I think this was largely just a rigging of the system to yet again benefit the rich at the expense of the less rich (but that’s just my 2 cents).
Well, Craig Morris of Renewables International reports that the European Union (EU) has now determined that the grid fee exemptions are illegal, that they are unfair subsidies. “Overall, it’s good news because these exemptions have not only distorted competition between nations, but also between large and midsize German firms – and have led to an absurd outcome in terms of efficiency.”
While this is only for the grid fees, I think it does set an important precedent, and the same ruling could eventually be made regarding renewable energy surcharge exemptions. It seems to me like that is an obvious extension of the ruling that should be pursued, but Craig doesn’t really discuss that, so maybe I’m missing something.
Regarding the renewable energy surcharge exemption, Craig has more specifics for those of us not as tied into or knowledgeable about the details of the German system: “Energy-intensive firms that face international competition do not pay the full 5.28 cents per kilowatt-hour, but rather only 0.05 cents.”
And some more details on the now-illegal grid fees: “Firms that consume more than 10 gigawatt-hours per year over at least 7,000 hours in a year do not have to pay anything for grid usage – even though they rely on the grid the most.”
For more context around these grid fees, the renewable energy surcharge, potential governmental shift regarding the renewable energy surcharge exemptions, and the implications for energy-intensive German industry, check out Craig’s full article: “EU cracks down on German energy policy.”
I'm the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular clean energy website in the world, and Planetsave, a leading green and science news site. I've been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and I've been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, bicycling, and wind energy for the past few years. You can also find my work on Scientific American, Reuters, Think Progress, GE's ecomagination site, several sites in the Important Media network, & many other places. To connect on your favorite social network, go to: zacharyshahan.com