Germany salvages companies' power discounts

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 8, 2014 at 1:05 pm •  Published: April 8, 2014

BERLIN (AP) — Germany said Tuesday that it will reduce the number of companies allowed to receive discounts on their electricity bills as part of an effort to satisfy European Union concerns.

The changes will decrease the number of companies largely exempted from a surcharge placed on consumers' power bills and used to promote renewable energy — something that is important as Germany weans itself off nuclear power.

The EU's Executive Commission in December started investigating as to whether the discounts — mostly given to large industrial companies — violate EU rules on state aid. That investigation raised concerns in Berlin that companies could see their costs rise and their competitiveness hurt.

Economy and Energy Minister Sigmar Gabriel said Tuesday that Germany has now completed talks with Brussels and is certain that adjustments to the system will mean it complies with EU rules.

Until now, around 2,000 companies were largely exempt from the surcharge. The number receiving full discounts will now drop by about 400, Gabriel said, with the exemptions focusing on those which "face international competition and have very high energy costs."