German utilities should invest in coal and gas - minister

German utilities need to invest massively in modernizing coal and gas power plants as Europe's largest economy considers an accelerated exit from nuclear power, the economy minister of North Rhine Westphalia said on Friday.
Harry Voigtsberger told German power producers not to be confrontational after top firms halted payments into an energy fund following a row over nuclear-plant shutdown plans, according to a report in paper Financial Times Deutschland.
The comments come as the heads of Germany's 16 states meet with Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin later on Friday to discuss energy policy and an eventual closure of Germany's nuclear power plants.
In Germany, the nuclear crisis in Japan has already led to a shutdown of several nuclear plants and the government is set to shore up the renewable sector. Germany's top energy firms include RWE, E.ON, Vattenfall and EnBW. North Rhine Westphalia is Germany's most populous state.
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