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C 76/46 EN Official Journal of the European Communities 11. 3.

98

(98/C 76/126) WRITTEN QUESTION E-1713/97

by Hiltrud Breyer (V) to the Council

(22 May 1997)

Subject: Electricity Grid Feed Act

Renewable energy is extremely important from the point of view of protecting the environment and climate. This
point was most recently acknowledged in the Green Paper on Renewable Sources of Energy (COM(96) 0576
final). Effective measures to promote renewable energy and ensure its rapid introduction into the market are
therefore essential. In Germany, the Electricity Grid Feed Act has for years served as an efficient means to this
end, enabling more than 1600 MW of wind power capacity to be installed within six years. The success of this
legislation is incontestable, but at the same time it has met with opposition from the monopolistic German energy
industry, which suddenly found itself exposed to unwelcome competition on the energy production side.

1. What is the Council’s view of the dispute about state aid in connection with the Electricity Grid Feed Act
and Commissioner Van Miert’s letter of 26 October 1996 to Germany’s Federal Minister for Economic Affairs?

2. Does the Council agree that the ‘polluter pays’ principle referred to in Article 130r(2) of the EC Treaty
permits the creation of instruments enabling any additional costs of environmentally benign energy production to
be shared among all electricity consumers, as provided for, for example, by the Electricity Grid Feed Act in
Germany in the case of renewable energy?

3. What is the Council’s view of the role of renewable energy in fulfilling the European Union’s climate
protection obligations? Are not aid measures to promote the introduction of renewable energy into markets
needed to perform this duty?

Joint answer
to Written Questions Nos E-1707/97, E-1709/97, E-1711/97 and E-1713/97

(25 September 1997)

1. The Council agrees with the Honourable Member that renewable energy has an important role to play in the
endeavours of the Community and the Member States to protect the environment. In its common position on the
review of the European Community programme of policy and action in relation to the environment and
sustainable development “Towards sustainability” (1), the Council suggested priorities for the energy sector.
Among these priorities are: to promote energy efficiency and the rational use of energy and to support the
development and application of energy-saving technologies and practices including programmes and measures,
awareness-raising and information measures, and to develop criteria for the screening of subsidy schemes in
order to redress incentives which have an adverse effect.

Furthermore, the Council Resolution on renewable sources of energy agreed upon by Energy Ministers at the
Council meeting on 27 May 1997 contains the position of the Council on various issues connected with
renewables and, more specifically, questions raised in the Commission’s Green Paper for a Community Strategy
- Energy for the future: renewable sources of energy. The resolution lists a series of measures that could increase
the consumption of renewable energy. These include actions and measures in the fields of research, development
and demonstration; market conditions; consumer information and confidence; and coordination and monitoring.
The resolution also notes that an active governmental policy, both at Member State and at Community level, is
necessary to improve the competitiveness of renewables.

Thus, the Council is well aware of the efforts required to meet the indicative target to double the overall share of
renewables by 2010.
11. 3. 98 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 76/47

2. It is not for the Council to express an opinion on legislative measures taken in one of the Member States of
the European Community. Pursuant to article 93 of the EC Treaty, the Commission is endowed with the powers
to keep under review all systems of aid existing in Member States in order to ascertain that they are compatible
with the Common Market.

3. The Council has no knowledge of the letter referred to in the questions. Nor is the Council aware of an
“internal note” of the Commission services mentioned in the questions of the Honourable Member.

(1) OJ C 157, 24.5.1997, p. 12.

(98/C 76/127) WRITTEN QUESTION E-1708/97


by Hiltrud Breyer (V) to the Commission
(23 May 1997)

Subject: Electricity Grid Feed Act

The letter of 26 October 1996 from Commissioner Van Miert to Germany’s Federal Minister for Economic
Affairs, Rexrodt, refers to adverse effects of the Electricity Grid Feed Act on intra-Community trade in
electricity. In connection with the letter, Directorate-General XVII was also asked to deliver an opinion. An
internal note to DG IV from DG XVII dating from summer 1996 mentions alleged ‘disproportionately high
windfall profits’ associated with new or prospective wind power facilities in Germany. In the meantime (at the
beginning of 1997), studies by German research institutes concerning trends in the cost of wind power have been
published showing that the Electricity Grid Feed Act clearly does not result in excessive subsidies being paid.
These studies demonstrate that only at favourable coastal sites do the rates of subsidy currently granted permit
the facilities to operate economically. This calculation does not even take account of the impact of possible future
damage to facilities and repair work.

1. Does not an adverse assessment of the Electricity Grid Feed Act manifestly run counter to the objective of
an environmentally benign energy supply as called for in the White Paper on ‘An Energy Policy for the European
Union’ and, more strongly still, in the Green Paper on Renewable Sources of Energy (COM(96) 0576 final)?

2. How does the Commission believe that the share of renewable energy can be doubled by 2010, as called for
in the Green Paper on Renewable Sources of Energy, without creating the basis for payments to be made for
power supplied to the grid from renewable sources such as to provide an incentive for the installation of new
production capacity?

(98/C 76/128) WRITTEN QUESTION E-1710/97


by Hiltrud Breyer (V) to the Commission
(23 May 1997)

Subject: Electricity Grid Feed Act

The letter of 26 October 1996 from Commissioner Van Miert to Germany’s Federal Minister for Economic
Affairs, Rexrodt, refers to adverse effects of the Electricity Grid Feed Act on intra-Community trade in
electricity. In connection with the letter, Directorate-General XVII was also asked to deliver an opinion. An
internal note to DG IV from DG XVII dating from summer 1996 mentions alleged ‘disproportionately high
windfall profits’ associated with new or prospective wind power facilities in Germany. In the meantime (at the
beginning of 1997), studies by German research institutes concerning trends in the cost of wind power have been
published showing that the Electricity Grid Feed Act clearly does not result in excessive subsidies being paid.
These studies demonstrate that only at favourable coastal sites do the rates of subsidy currently granted permit
the facilities to operate economically. This calculation does not even take account of the impact of possible future
damage to facilities and repair work.

1. Is the Directorate-General for Energy aware of these studies, and will it qualify its statements of summer
1996 in the light of this new information?