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Germany

Environment minister's energy plan faces criticism from both sides

German government plans on how to fill the gaping hole left by a faster transition from nuclear energy have garnered criticism from both sides of the aisle, with ruling party leaders saying the cost may be too high.

Windmill

The plan includes a 5-billion euro wind park on the coast

Plans to overhaul Germany's energy sector and speed up the phaseout of nuclear energy have been criticized by politicians inside and outside the ruling parties, highlighting the tough road ahead for the government's energy policy.

German Environment Minister Norbert Röttgen, of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrat party (CDU), and Economy Minister Rainer Brüderle, of the coalition Free Democrats (FDP), last week presented a six-point plan to accelerate Germany's transition from nuclear power to renewables.

The proposal includes a special program to build wind parks on Germany's northern coast, costing more than 5 billion euros ($7.2 billion).

But as the government has been pushing austerity as a way to strengthen the economy, parliamentary leaders have been hesitant to support the plan. Michael Fuchs, deputy chair of the CDU's parliamentary faction, held back praise for the plan and said it needed more details.

"In principle the six-point plan is reasonable," he told the Hamburger Abendblatt newspaper on Monday. He added, however, that nowhere in the plan does it say how it will be financed, saying that everyone must get it straight that "if we are to speed up the transition from nuclear energy, prices will rise."

'A budget risk'

Norbert Röttgen

Röttgen had to defend the plan from members of his own party

Norbert Barthle, budget spokesman for the coalition Christian Social Union (CSU) party, came out against using more subsidies to help build the wind parks.

"If more costs are going to arise from turning around our energy sector, then they have to be carried by the consumer and not the taxpayer," he told the daily Berliner Zeitung.

Opposition leaders also called the costs of the plan incalculable, with Social Democrat budget expert Carsten Schneider calling it "a budget risk."

"Cost explosions for industry and the already hard-hit consumer are no longer acceptable," he said.

Röttgen defended his plan on Monday at a party meeting in Berlin, backing it up with a recent decision by the German Association of Energy and Water Industries to support a transition out of nuclear power by 2020.

Author: Andrew Bowen (dpa, Reuters)
Editor: Martin Kuebler

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