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German court nukes tax on power firms
by Staff Writers
Berlin (AFP) June 7, 2017

Power companies in Germany stand to gain billions in refunds from the government after the country's top court declared Wednesday that a nuclear fuel tax was illegal.

The news boosted shares of major operators E.ON and RWE, which must phase out atomic power by 2022 under a decision Chancellor Angela Merkel made after Japan's 2011 Fukushima disaster.

Germany's Constitutional Court ruled that the nuclear fuel tax imposed from 2011-16 was unconstitutional and scrapped it retrospectively.

The tax, which levied 145 euros per gramme of new radioactive fuel, had netted the German government nearly 6.3 billion euros ($7 billion), according to finance ministry data.

E.ON said the tax had cost it over 2.8 billion euros, a sum it wants refunded plus 450 million euros interest.

RWE said it had paid 1.7 billion euros, and EnBW said its had paid 1.4 billion euros.

On the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, RWE shares rose 6.34 percent to 19.70 euros, and EON 5.12 percent to 8.46 euros, by 1340 GMT.

The tax on new uranium and plutonium fuel rods was first levied after the Merkel government had allowed the utilities to extend the service spans of their reactors.

However, the tax remained in place despite Merkel's 2011 decision to shutter Germany's nuclear reactor fleet, sparking legal complaints by the power companies.

The German Constitutional Court has now ruled that the government never had the legislative power to impose what the judges considered an entirely new tax without constitutional basis, and declared it void.

Germany, under its energy transition programme, aims to switch from largely nuclear power and carbon-based energy to clean renewables such as wind, solar, biomass and hydropower this century.

By mid-century Germany, Europe's biggest economy, aims to meet 80 percent of its power needs with alternative energy, up from about one third now.

As an interim goal, half of its electricity supplies are meant to stem from green sources by 2030, a drive that also heavily relies on boosting energy efficiency and cutting consumption.

Big power companies such as EON, RWE and Vattenfall of Sweden have taken a beating amid a glut of green electricity that has driven down wholesale prices.




Nuclear-wary Japan restarts another atomic reactor
Tokyo (AFP) June 6, 2017
A Japanese utility switched on another nuclear reactor Tuesday in a small victory for the government's pro-atomic push, despite strong public opposition after the 2011 Fukushima meltdown. The restart of the No. 3 reactor at the Takahama nuclear plant brings the number of running reactors in Japan to five, while dozens more remain offline. The plant, operated by Kansai Electric Power (KEP ... read more

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