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EU Opens Probe into Germany's Renewable Energy Subsidies

Dec 18, 2013
(Wall Street Journal)

European Union regulators Wednesday launched a probe into Germany's energy subsidies system, which could see the country's heavy industry sector having to pay back several billion euros.

The move puts Brussels on a potential collision course with Berlin, after Chancellor Angela Merkel said she would block any changes to the country's renewable energy law if it meant putting German jobs at risk.

EU regulators say they are looking into the German law's exemptions scheme, the so-called EEG-Act, which dispenses more than 2,000 heavy energy users, including chemical company BASF SE (BAS.XE) and steel producer ThyssenKrupp AG (TKA.XE), from paying a green surcharge. The surcharge, which is instead passed on to consumers, was imposed to fund the nation's exit from nuclear power and fossil fuels in the coming decades in favor of wind, solar and other renewable energy sources.