German energy minister Sigmar Gabriel has caused some surprise by declaring the need for the country’s major utilities to be supported.
According to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Gabriel, speaking in Bonn, said the recent ‘bashing’ of energy giants must stop.
“It must be in our interest to accompany and support these companies today, in order to enable them to have a future and develop to the benefit of the country and their employees,” Gabriel said, according to the report.
He added that the companies face extremely difficult conditions not only of their own making – they were also “victims of politics”,meaning they did not carry the sole burden of “responsibility towards the employees in those companies.”
According to a report in WAZ, Gabriel also referred to the obligations of the country’s four biggest utilities (RWE, E.ON, Vattenfall and EnBW) to put aside provisions for nuclear decomissioning. “We have to be careful not to shave those companies, because then we won’t get those 38 billion euros at all,” he said. E.ON and RWE shares leapt 8 per cent in response to Gabriel’s remarks, the paper reports.
Gabriel’s economy ministry confirmed that energy companies had set aside sufficient funds to pay for decommissioning costs, as the country continues its shift towards renewables.
There had been peculation about the results of a government ‘stress test’ into nuclear provisions in the past month, with some outlets reporting that there would be a considerable shortfall.
However Gabriel has since confirmed that the total €38.3bn of provisions set aside by utility companies, including EON, RWE, Energie Baden- Wuerttemberg, Vattenfall and Stadtwerke Muenchen, “completely reflect the costs”.