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Eon chief Bernotat attacks the Federal Network Agency


BERLIN. EonCEO Wulf Bernotat provides for the modernization of the electricity system threatened by the strict regulation in Germany. "The current practice of the Federal Network Agency not only offers no incentives for investment, it even acts as a brake investment," said Bernotat yesterday at the Handelsblatt Energy Conference in Berlin. Each euro invested bring the network operators are currently only 83 cents back in return. Among other things, borrowing costs are not adequately taken into account. The President of the Federal Network Agency, Matthias Kurth, dismissed the allegations held back.

The EonCEO fears delays in the rebuilding of the German power grid into an intelligent network, a so-called smart grid. This should enable better forecasting of consumption and more efficient management of supply. Background is the massive caused by climate change and government-sponsored expansion of renewable energies. Since electricity from wind turbines or solar panels depending on the weather conditions in highly fluctuating quantity and is obtained locally fed also enables production forecasting difficult. Moreover, the consumption is becoming more difficult to predict – including the expected boom in electric cars, which are irregularly connected to the charging stations.

To meet the new challenges, will step by step, an intelligent control system are introduced. The starting point are smart electricity meters in homes that can provide the suppliers, current consumption data and control the long run appliances in the households. In addition, however, the entire network must also be upgraded with modern information technology. The necessary investments are estimated by Bernotat for Germany at around 20 billion euros. Alone on Eons wide range of low and medium voltage network accounted for nine to ten billion euros.

"The existing grid is not for a more decentralized, renewable energy designed dominated energy supply," said Bernotat. "A modern power grid is the key to energy future." Only with him the energy and climate policy objectives could be achieved. The federal government has maintained the structure of intelligent networks, also in the coalition agreement. "However, it is this – I have so much to say – not in the current regulatory framework are," criticized Bernotat. The regulation has been only one goal: to reduce costs.

In recent years, the Federal Network Agency had in fact reduced the charges, which may require the network operators for the conveyance of electricity, on average by significant double-digit percentages. She has so increased the chances of new entrants to engage in the German market.

On the other hand had no objection in principle, if only it were trying to manage an existing network. "For a massive expansion and extensive modernization of the networks we need a regulation that gives incentives to invest."

Support was given to the EonChief at the meeting by the Managing Director of the Association of Energy and Water Management (BDEW), Hildegard Mueller. Kurth, chief regulator can not understand the allegations of Bernotat, however: "From a negative return can be no question," he said at the request of Handelsblatt. Return on equity for new investment lies around 9,29 percent. She was so clearly in the positive range, and adequate. "Many other industries would be glad of such a return, which is still guaranteed to do so."

It is understandable if the board of an energy company demands an even higher rate of return, added Kurth. On the legality and appropriateness of the actions of his administration, however, this change nothing. As the return on equity has to be made is prescribed by law. And that also keeps the Federal Network Agency to uphold the law, had on several occasions by the Federal Court and has recently been confirmed by the Constitutional Court.

"As simple as Mr Bernotat you should not do," said Kurth. The Federal Network Agency could not be accused of hampering the necessary reorientation of the electricity. They guide and support the necessary changes and will continue to do so in the future. You must also bring the different interests to balance.

Kurth also noted that the network operators have a legal obligation to demand expansion of networks. "In that regard, it is not in its discretion whether they contribute to the energy transition or not."

Economics Minister Rainer Brüderle (FDP) jumped at the head regulator. The Federal Network Agency has recently approved 4.3 billion euros for the upgraded network. "This is the starting signal, the operator is now your turn."

With regard to the proposed national energy plan Brüderle wants to move up a gear: "Until the summer break, the corners should be clear, the program should be available in October." Eon-Chief Bernotat said: "The policy should rapidly start the work so that it adheres to its schedule."