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Merkel hosts meeting to plan Germany's energy future

German politicians have gathered in Berlin to discuss the country's future energy policy. As the shift to renewable energy begins, old electricity plants will be activated during the winter months as demand increases.

Chancellor Angela Merkel met with the premiers of Germany's 16 states Friday to coordinate the country's shift towards renewable energy.

At the conference, Merkel said she and her colleagues would ensure a steady power supply, a continuing renewable energy expansion and affordable electricity prices.

"The citizens of Germany can know that we are committed to the goal of an energy transition," said Merkel. "Today I sensed a spirit that we want to achieve this, and perhaps we'll actually be able to."

Germany last year moved to phase out nuclear energy by 2022 and replace it with wind, solar and other renewable forms of energy. The plan has come under criticism for lack of coordination, oversight and delays.

Thuringia state governor Christine Lieberknecht, who chaired a preliminary meeting of state premiers, said Germany must coordinate its energy transition plan nationally because "we cannot have 16 states with 16 energy switchovers."

Activating old plants

As demand for power increases in the winter, Germany will begin to activate aging electricity plants.

"The Federal Networks Agency has told us that there will be 2.5 gigawatts of reserve capacity," said Merkel. "It will be essentially in the southern part of the country, because that is where the greatest uncertainty has come about through turning off nuclear power plants."

Both Austria and Germany activated old coal and oil plants to meet peak power demand last winter.

Eight nuclear plants have already been decommissioned, mostly in Germany's south. Nine remain online.

Merkel led the effort last year to end the era of nuclear power in Germany, in part because of the Fukushima reactor disaster in the wake of the tsunami that struck Japan in March 2011. One-quarter of Germany's power was previously nuclear-generated.

dr/mz (dpa, AP)