Minister urges German parliament to accept energy reforms

Germany’s new federal minister of economics and energy wants the country to get behind him on controversial reforms of energy policy.

Sigmar Gabriel is defending subsidies cuts aimed at reining in renewables costs and reducing power bills. In a keynote speech to parliament, Gabriel announced the plans and called on his critics to help keep Germans’ soaring energy bills in check.
Sigmar Gabriel
Urging German parliamentary lawmakers to join in efforts aimed at making the country's shift to renewable forms of energy a success he told the Bundestag lower house on Thursday, that the transformation of the German energy sector could create huge economic, ecological and political benefits, but at the same time was posing risks to Germany as a modern industry.

"We need to break the dynamics of ever-rising electricity bills, while ensuring a stable supply of energy for all," he said.

Deutche Welle online reports that he outlined plans to cut average subsidies for renewable power sources from a current 0.17 euros ($0.23) per kilowatt hour to 0.12 euros by 2015.

Moreover, the build-up of onshore capacity of wind and solar plants would be capped at 2500 MW a year, while offshore wind capacity may not expand beyond 6.5 GW until 2020.

The country's environmental organizations are understandably unhappy and claim Gabriel is seeking to slow down the move to renewable energies in favor of coal power, which is still needed as backup energy.

In his speech, Gabriel promised he would take the criticism seriously, but added: "Special interests will not determine government policy."

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