BERLIN Oct 3 A senior figure in Germany's Free
Democrats has threatened to drop plans to extend the lives of
national nuclear plants if power companies take issue with
conditions the next government attaches to such extensions.
Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives are due to start
coalition talks with the business-friendly Free Democrats (FDP)
on Monday and energy policy will be a key issue for negotiation.
The two groups have said they will look to extend the lives
of Germany's 17 nuclear plants, which an existing plan envisages
phasing out by 2021 at the latest.
But FDP deputy chairman Andreas Pinkwart said there might
not be a blanket extension of the nuclear plants' lives -- an
outcome that Juergen Grossmann, chief executive of utility RWE
(RWEG.DE), has pushed for.
"If the electricity companies baulk at our conditions, the
existing phase-out law will remain," Pinkwart told Der Spiegel
magazine in an interview released on Saturday.
Each nuclear plant must be examined individually and an
overall solution should be reached that promotes both "green"
electricity and competition, Pinkwart said, adding that some
reactors could be decommissioned sooner than previously planned.
Der Spiegel added that Merkel was anxious to avoid giving
the impression of pursuing a strong, pro-nuclear policy.
The chancellery wanted a review of the need for nuclear
energy and the potential for developing renewable power sources
to be conducted before extensions of the nuclear plants' lives
are negotiated, the magazine added.
Nuclear operator E.ON's EONG.DE chief executive, Wulf
Bernotat, has indicated he is prepared to offer something in
exchange for longer life cycles.
The president of the BDI industry association, Hans-Peter
Keitel, pressed for longer nuclear plant lives to keep down
"We shouldn't subsidise each photovoltaic cell but rather
provide for competitive energy prices," he told the Tagesspiegel
daily in an interview to run in its Monday edition.
Separately, Baden Wuerttemberg's environment minister Tanja
Goenner, tipped to become federal environment minister, told
Focus magazine Gorleben in Lower Saxony should be explored
further as a potential final storage site for nuclear waste.
(Additional reporting by Vera Eckert in Frankfurt)
(Writing by Paul Carrel; Editing by Ron Askew)