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The bitter over-profit lesson for the Greens

Not everything that sounds good on talk shows and Sunday speeches turns out to be feasible in the gray everyday political life.

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The bitter over-profit lesson for the Greens

Not everything that sounds good on talk shows and Sunday speeches turns out to be feasible in the gray everyday political life. Representatives of the traffic light parties just need to find out more, especially the Greens: namely in the planned skimming off of so-called “random profits” on the electricity market.

This additional income is intended to ensure that private households do not have to pay more than 40 cents per kilowatt hour for 80 percent of their consumption from January. To this end, 90 percent of all proceeds that exceed a threshold that has yet to be defined are to be skimmed off. This should apply to nuclear energy, lignite, electricity from waste incineration, mineral oil - and also to renewable energies from wind and sun.

Tobias Goldschmidt, Minister of Energy and the Environment for the state of Schleswig-Holstein, sees sudden important investments in the energy transition threatened by skimming off the proceeds. "Schleswig-Holstein is an energy transition country and I am therefore very concerned about the plans of the federal government," says the Green politician.

Uncertainties about planned investments are pretty much the last thing that wind millers, solar companies, biogas companies and hydrogen pioneers in the country need now. Many green electricity producers have already budgeted the profits they have made for investments.

In the meantime, people in Berlin have also noticed that skimming off profits is not trivial in detail. The gas and electricity price brake is a "very complex and difficult project", said government spokeswoman Christiane Hoffmann at the beginning of the week. That is why the adoption of the draft law in the cabinet, which was actually scheduled for next Friday, has to be postponed again.

The aim remains, however, that the entire project is finally approved by the Federal Council at the beginning of December. In a special session on Monday, the Federal Council only decided on the first stage of the gas price brake, the so-called December aid.

It is not new that a siphoning off of profits from the biggest beneficiaries of high energy prices affects everyone, including green electricity companies. Federal Finance Minister and FDP leader Christian Lindner pointed this out to his cabinet colleague Habeck in May after the cabinet meeting in Meseberg.

Due to rising electricity prices, the operators of wind turbines could also make additional profits, Lindner explained at the time. "Of course, these additional profits are an incentive to continue investing, because the high price and the economic attractiveness of wind energy in Germany, for example, are strengthened by it," he said. But that is exactly what is in the political interests of the traffic light government.

Not skimming off the profits at all or only later from green electricity companies is difficult, not only because of the principle of equality. Many companies that still earn their money from coal-fired power generation, for example, want to invest the profits from this in renewable energies.

One example is Leag in Brandenburg, one of the largest power producers in Germany. Among other things, a huge solar park is planned there on the site of the industrial ash disposal plant in Böhlen. The energy group RWE also wants to invest billions of euros in its green portfolio over the next few years, including the areas of offshore and onshore wind power, solar and hydrogen.

Much will now depend on where the government draws the upper line. While according to European law only revenues of more than 180 euros per megawatt hour are to be skimmed off, the federal government has so far wanted to introduce lower values ​​depending on the energy source and thus possibly skim off more of the revenues.

"Societal solidarity requires a moderate levy and is also right," says State Minister Goldschmidt. Last but not least, he criticizes the retrospective levy already effective September 1st. The planned retrospective model destroys so much trust that the federal government should urgently reconsider. A solution that works for everyone must be found.

The Federal Association for Renewable Energy (BEE) sees it similarly. “The path we have taken is a dead end, and even minor corrections will not change that. The proposed construct is too complex, error-prone and anti-investment,” wrote the BEE President and former Greens Chairwoman Simone Peter last week in an open letter to the federal government. Instead of a complicated siphoning off of proceeds, she spoke out in favor of a “temporary solidarity levy”.

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