Nervous utilities await Berlin nuclear commission decision

A commission in Germany is meeting on Friday to discuss the final plan for nuclear decommissioning, as part of the country’s nuclear power phase-out.

The outcome is causing some concerns among Germany‘s top utilities as the government-appointed body looks at the funds set aside to pay for the clean-up.
Germany's top four utilities
The countries top four, E.ON, RWE, EnBW and Vattenfall – have earmarked nearly $45bn in provisions to pay for the dismantling and waste storage of their nuclear plants, the last of which will be closed in 2022.

But concerns over their financial health have fuelled fears that the power firms may be unable to turn the provisions — mainly cash, assets and shares — into liquidity, eventually leaving taxpayers to foot all or part of the bill.

Reuters reports that the commission, consisting of 19 politicians, lawyers, academics and businessmen aims to present recommendations by the end of the month.

One option under discussion is the creation of a fund in which utilities would have to transfer part of their provisions to pay for the final storage of nuclear waste, the most challenging and potentially most expensive part of decommissioning.

Under such a deal, the responsibility for dismantling the plants as well as storing waste until a final storage site has been found would remain with the power firms.

Open questions include the level of provisions and how fast the utilities would have to transfer them into the fund, if such a decision was reached.

Industry analysts expect a settlement that could include German utilities dropping their various lawsuits against the forced shutdown of nuclear plants in exchange for a favourable solution regarding provisions.

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