Ownership restricts EnBW's complaint

31 July 2012

EnBW has made clear that it supports the legal action made by other utilities against Germany's nuclear policy but that it is unable to contest the matter due to being publicly owned.

All of Germany's large power companies - EOn, RWE, Vattenfall and EnBW - use nuclear power as part of their generation mix, and all were impacted by the country's reaction to the Fukushima accident in March last year. A previously negotiated amendment to the Atomic Energy Act that would 'extend' the operation of certain reactors was unilaterally revised, although corresponding fuel taxes were maintained. Eight reactors were also ordered to close immediately, despite assurances from the Reactor Safety Commission that safety requirements were met even in the light of the Fukushima accident.

EOn and RWE contested the fuel tax in local courts, and the revision to the Atomic Energy Act in the constitutional court on the basis of confiscation of their property - generating rights and the use of legally operating plant. Based in Sweden, Vattenfall has taken up the matter with International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes. They have all said they expect full compensation, which could reach several billion euros when the costs of early decommissioning and cancelled contracts are added to lost income from generation.

For its part EnBW detailed some of the costs of the policy last year and contested the fuel tax, but has refused to join the constitutional action on the shutdowns. Yesterday it explained its position: After "intense legal scrutiny and consideration" it decided not to make a constitutional complaint. This was "based primarily on the fact that EnBW is over 98% owned by the public." A constitutional complaint would be simply inadmissable, it said, although it remains confident the courts will find in favour of EOn and RWE.

Two 46.55% blocks of EnBW shares reside with publicly owned holding groups, one of which is controlled by the the state of Baden-Württenberg - itself governed by a coalition of Social Democrats and Greens. This portion had previously been owned by EDF, but was sold for €4.67 billion ($5.74 billion) in December 2010.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News