Hesse's closure of RWE's Biblis nuclear plant was illegal -court

KASSEL, Germany Wed Feb 27, 2013 11:06am EST

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KASSEL, Germany Feb 27 (Reuters) - A German court ruled on Wednesday that a state's decision to shut down RWE's Biblis nuclear plant for three months in 2011 was illegal, raising the utility's prospects of financial compensation.

RWE, Germany's No.2 utility, had filed a complaint in April 2011 against the German state of Hesse, which had ordered a three-month shutdown of RWE's Biblis nuclear plant following the disaster at Japan's Fukushima plant.

The Hesse Administrative Court said the order had been illegal because RWE had no opportunity to respond properly, adding that an appeal against the decision had not been possible.

The Fukushima disaster later also triggered Germany's decision to exit nuclear power for good by 2022, leaving Germany's top utilities - E.ON, RWE, EnBW and Vattenfall - with billions of euros of writedowns and thousands of job losses.

Biblis, Germany's oldest nuclear plant, has remained idled since 2011.

"We are glad that the court followed our opinion," an RWE spokeswoman said, adding the company would now examine the ruling and would claim damages in civil court.

In July last year, the court had already ruled that RWE's complaint filed against the state of Hesse for forcing the company to shut down Biblis was "admissible".

RWE estimates that dismantling its two reactors at Biblis will cost 1.5 billion euros ($1.96 billion), excluding storage costs for the nuclear waste. ($1 = 0.7649 euros) (Reporting by Christoph Steitz; Editing by Anthony Barker)

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