3 Min Read
* Enters cooperation with Google's Nest to sell thermostats
* Does not see final ruling on nuclear fuel tax in 2014
* Shares up 0.8 percent (Adds detail on nuclear fuel tax, updates shares)
By Christoph Steitz and Tom Käckenhoff
ESSEN, Germany, April 16 (Reuters) - Germany's RWE said it expected profits to stabilise beyond 2014, albeit at a lower level, as it targets customer-friendly products in an attempt to offset a decline in traditional power generation.
Along with larger peer E.ON, RWE has suffered from weaker energy demand in Europe and a massive expansion of renewable energy at home, making many of its coal and gas plants redundant.
RWE was forced to take nearly 5 billion euros ($6.91 billion) in impairment charges on its coal and gas plants, pushing the company last year to its first annual net loss in more than six decades.
Chief Executive Peter Terium, tasked with finding a new strategy for Germany's second-largest utility by market value, signalled that the worst was behind the company.
"We do not expect the dramatic trends of recent years to continue to quite the same extent," Terium said at RWE's annual shareholder meeting on Wednesday.
"Based on what we know now, we expect our net income to largely stabilise, although at a lower level than in previous years," he said.
RWE shares were up 0.8 percent in afternoon trading.
The expansion most notably of solar power has hit utilities across Europe, flooding a market already suffering from overcapacity and forcing energy firms to tap new growth areas, including helping clients save energy rather than use more.
Highlighting the need to foster ties with household clients, RWE said it had entered into cooperation with a maker of smart thermostats and smoke alarms, Nest Labs Inc, which was taken over by Google for $3.2 billion earlier this year.
Terium said RWE's British unit npower was the only utility in the UK to sell Nest's Learning Thermostat, which tracks household energy usage and employs the data to automatically set temperatures, helping to cut heating bills by up to one fifth.
"We are confident that the thermostat is the right product not only for the UK but also for our other markets in Europe," Terium said, without disclosing further details on the cooperation deal.
Npower is one of the big six suppliers in Britain, where it has about 3.6 million customers.
RWE is also banking on being refunded nuclear fuel tax payments it has made in the past, taking heart from a preliminary decision by a Hamburg court this week that said utilities should be reimbursed.
RWE has so far paid about 900 million euros in such taxes.
Terium said the levy would continue to affect it until Germany's Federal Constitutional Court or the European Court of Justice rule on the matter, something he does not expect to happen this year. ($1 = 0.7234 Euros) (Editing by Maria Sheahan and Tom Pfeiffer)