EnBW files complaint against order to keep power plants open

FRANKFURT Mon Jan 20, 2014 3:36am EST

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FRANKFURT Jan 20 (Reuters) - German utility EnBW has taken legal action against a decision by the country's energy regulator that forces it to keep open four power generating units it intended to close.

Germany's third-biggest utility said on Monday it had filed a complaint with the Higher Regional Court in Duesseldorf against the decision by regulator Bundesnetzagentur (BnetzA).

Earlier this month, the regulator rejected an application by EnBW to close down the plants, saying they were considered crucial for safe supply in the south-western region.

The four units are oil-, gas- and coal-fired at EnBW's Marbach and Walheim sites, with a capacity of 668 megawatts (MW).

German utilities need approval from the regulator to shut plants and are landed with the cost of maintaining unprofitable operations when it blocks their closure.

"In a market economy, individual companies should not be forced to offer a service for free. Otherwise, our business is threatened by grave competitive disadvantages and losses, putting jobs at risk. We cannot accept this," EnBW's Chief Executive Frank Mastiaux told German newspaper Die Welt in an interview published on Monday.

Green power supply takes precedence on transmission grids in Germany. This cuts minimum running hours needed for some conventional power stations conceived to run 24 hours a day. EnBW's peers E.ON and RWE are also either shutting down or mothballing plants as a result.

The regulator oversees a list of applications for closures which currently amounts to 41 power generation units. (Reporting by Christoph Steitz; Editing by Mark Potter)

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