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Germany

German energy giants ditch green fund over Berlin's nuclear U-turn

German nuclear companies have announced they will stop contributing to an environmental fund after Berlin issued a moratorium on extending the life of the country's nuclear reactors.

Nuclear power station at Philippsburg in Karlsruhe

German energy companies are stepping up pressure on Berlin

Four companies that run German nuclear power plants said they have stopped payments to an environment fund as a result of a government moratorium on nuclear power extension plans.

EON, RWE, Vattenfall and EnBW have all been contributing to a fund since January that was designed to support renewable energy. The payments were a condition of the plan to extend the life of Germany's nuclear power program.

That energy plan was put on hold in the aftermath of the nuclear accident in Japan in March. The three-month moratorium on the prolongation plans was handed down instead, along with the closing of the seven oldest plants in Germany.

Quid pro quo

"We have decided to stop paying," at least for the duration of the government moratorium, EON spokesman Josef Nelles told AFP.

"We will stop paying; this will start with the April contribution," a spokeswoman for Vattenfall Europe, a subsidiary of the Swedish group, said.

"The very existence (of the fund) was conditioned on the prolongation of the life of the plants. As this prolongation was suspended, we are also suspending our payments. We will not pay until this issue has been clarified."

The fund for the promotion of renewable energies was set up in connection with the nuclear power plant life extension in 2010. Overall, the energy companies were expected to contribute revenue of 16.9 billion euros ($24 billion), most of which was expected to go to wind power.

The government communications service said it took note of the companies' decision and did not rule out a renegotiation of its agreement with them.

"The government is currently examining the financial consequences of the moratorium," a spokeswoman said, adding that once clarity has been obtained, it "may lead to a modification of the accord with the energy groups."

Author: Stuart Tiffen (AFP, dpa)
Editor: Toma Tasovac

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