FRANKFURT/DUESSELDORF Jan 31 ArcelorMittal
, the world's biggest steelmaker, warned that Germany's
proposed energy reforms would prompt companies to scale back
investments as it becomes harder to make money in Europe's
Germany's cabinet last week backed a plan by Economy
Minister Sigmar Gabriel to reform the way Germany supports
renewable power production, including requiring industries that
produce their own power to start paying charges as well, after
rising costs have burdened household bill-payers.
"Nobody is saying that we'll start closing plants tomorrow,"
Frank Schulz, head of ArcelorMittal's German business, told
Reuters. "But if the threats become more concrete now, companies
will be increasingly cautious when it comes to investments."
Schulz said the proposed reforms would add 30 million euros
($40.7 million) a year to the cost of operating ArcelorMittal's
four plants in Germany, which employ about 8,000 workers and
were unprofitable in 2012. Of that cost figure, more than 20
million euros would come from green surcharges.
The money goes to green energy producers under a feed-in
tariff law guaranteeing them above-market earnings. Producers of
power for their own use so far have been exempted from paying
To reduce waste and lower the amount of expensive power they
have to buy to operate their plants, many companies recycle
gases released as a byproduct of production to generate power.
Schulz said that imposing charges on existing on-site power
facilities, which commonly cost millions of euros to set up,
would create a disincentive for future investments.
"Gabriel's plans have to be changed," said Schulz, echoing
criticism from other industrial companies operating in Germany
such as German steelmaker ThyssenKrupp and chemicals
Schulz, who also oversees European government affairs for
ArcelorMittal, added that he aimed to discuss the matter with
the economy minister as soon as possible.
($1 = 0.7373 euros)
(Reporting by Maria Sheahan and Tom Kaeckenhoff; editing by