* Few concrete results from Merkel talks with state premiers
* Merkel wants to rescue stalled plans to boost renewables
* Fears of power gap after accelerated nuclear phase-out due
* Priorities include grid expansion, solar incentive cuts
By Madeline Chambers
BERLIN, May 23 Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed
with Germany's state premiers on Wednesday to step up efforts to
expand the power grid and resolve a dispute over solar
incentives as she tries to rescue plans for a switch away from
nuclear to renewable energy.
Merkel said her vision for an energy shift in Europe's
biggest economy would require a lot of work and coordination but
all parties at the three-hour talks in Berlin had vowed to work
together despite clashing interests.
"The energy switch is a Herculean task which we are all
committed to," Merkel said after the meeting with Germany's 16
regional leaders, adding that participants agreed energy supply
must be secure, environmentally sustainable and affordable.
"We have a lot of work ahead of us but we agreed to work
together," Merkel told reporters.
Since Merkel's abrupt policy reversal last year to shut more
than half a dozen nuclear plants and speed up the nuclear
phase-out after Japan's Fukushima disaster, her government has
failed to set out a clear plan to manage the shift.
Industry has warned of power shortages and companies are
experiencing problems with plans for offshore wind power due
partly to the insufficient grid network.
Merkel suffered another setback earlier this month when
proposed cuts in subsidies for the solar industry were suspended
by the Bundesrat upper house, where the federal states are
represented, meaning weeks more of tortuous negotiations.
The chancellor stressed she wanted to get a swift deal on
the planned cuts to solar feed-in-tariffs of between 20 and
nearly 40 percent.
"Time is pressing. We have set up a working group and we are
aiming for an agreement before the summer break," said Merkel.
States which have built up strong solar industries oppose
the cuts, saying they will destroy jobs and hit local economies.