Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Germany Should Rethink Nuclear Power Phaseout, Minister Says

Bloomberg.com: Germany

Jan. 10 (Bloomberg) -- Germany's government should rethink a plan to phase out nuclear power, Economics and Technology Minister Michael Glos said.
Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition has agreed to abide by a planned phaseout of Germany's 17 nuclear power plants by 2021. Glos has asked for a reconsideration of that decision.
``I don't consider it sensible to shut down technically faultless nuclear power stations, whose running time was randomly determined, and instead buy energy from insecure power stations, for instance from our eastern neighbors,'' Glos told ARD television in an interview today. ``We have to talk about that.''
Russian OAO Gazprom's dispute with the Ukraine over gas prices, which led to the disruption of gas supplies at the beginning of this month, prompted some lawmakers to call for an extension of Germany's nuclear power production.
Glos is a member of the Christian Social Union, the Bavarian sister party of Chancellor Merkel's Christian Democratic Union. The coalition partner Social Democrats insist on following the phaseout timetable.
The coalition treaty ``is the basis for the work of this coalition,'' Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck of the SPD said today in a separate ARD interview. ``And in it there is no talk of the end of the phaseout of nuclear energy.'' The nuclear power issue may become the first point of contention between the Social Democrats and some members of the Christian Democrats and the CSU.
Electricity Prices
The temporary drop in Ukraine-transited gas supplies this month added to concern among consumers and industrial companies about rising energy bills. Electricity prices in Germany have more than doubled in five years, boosting earnings from power at E.ON AG and RWE AG by more than 50 percent.
Peter Mueller, the Christian Democratic Union prime minister of the German state of Saarland, and Roland Koch, the CDU's governor of the state of Hesse, also called in newspaper interviews for a review of the energy policy.
``It doesn't make sense to shut down plants when the technology is up to date,'' Mueller told Germany's Bild-Zeitung yesterday. The government should agree on a moratorium and ``not shut down any reactor before'' 2009. Koch said yesterday in an interview with the Leipziger Volkszeitung newspaper on Jan. 8 that Germany shouldn't rule out building new nuclear power plants.
The position of Koch and Mueller is at odds with that of Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel, a Social Democrat, who said Jan. 5 that Germany will stand by plans to shut down nuclear power production by 2021.
Merkel will hold a summit with utilities at the beginning of April to review the government's energy policy. The meeting with energy industry chiefs was originally planned for February or March.


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