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German Cabinet drafts bill securing financial liability of energy firms for nuclear 'phase out'

The German Cabinet has drafted a bill to secure the full liability of energy companies for the costs of decommissioning nuclear plants and the disposal of waste. Germany aims to shut all its nuclear stations by 2022.

According to government sources, the Cabinet decided on the draft law on Wednesday. Under the bill, nuclear energy companies Eon, RWE, EnBW and Vattenfall will be liable for all of the

financial obligations involved in the national nuclear power phaseout,

which, in total, is projected to cost at least 47.5 billion euros ($54 billion).

The aim of the bill is to prevent corporations from reducing liability assets by setting up subsidiaries and also to reduce the risks to public finances, and thus protecting German taxpayers.

Funding fears remain

Deputy chairperson of the Greens' parliamentary group, Bärbel Höhn, criticized the draft bill on Wednesday, however.

The draft by "does not solve the basic problem that the parent companies may go bankrupt, because its core business in power generation has no future," she told the DPA news agency.

Höhn suggested that the government should instead set up a public fund to ensure the provision of 38 billion euros to nuclear companies.

On Saturday, German Vice Chancellor and Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel (SPD) released the results of a stress test, however, which showed that the country's energy companies have the fiscal capacity to finance the decommissioning of power plants in the coming seven years.

Countdown to 2022

A commission, which will observe the financing of the nuclear phase out, was also decided upon on Wednesday. Among the figures on 19-member board are former Hamburg mayor, Ole von Beust (CDU), former Environment Minister Jürgen Trittin (Greens) and ex-Brandenburger Premier Matthias Platzeck (SPD).

The delegation is due in January to suggest how the financing of Germany's nuclear shutdown can be secured in the long term.

Under its "Energiewende" strategy, Germany aims to obtain

80 percent of its electricity from renewable sources

by 2050. So far, a quarter of the country's power needs are met through sustainable means, but doubts remain over its ability to fulfill the pledge.

ksb/kms (Reuters, AFP, dpa)

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