BERLIN Germany's lower house of parliament approved a new law on Thursday which will see the country's top utilities pay into a 23.6 billion-euro ($24.8 billion) state fund from next year in return for shifting the liability for nuclear waste storage to the government.
The new legislation removes uncertainty over how to pay for the costs of storing nuclear waste, giving investors greater clarity over the finances of Germany's top four utilities -- E.ON, RWE, EnBW and Vattenfall.
The energy firms will remain responsible for dismantling Germany's nuclear plants, the last of which will be shut down in 2022 as part of the country's abandonment of nuclear power, a decision triggered by Japan's Fukushima disaster five years ago.
"I am glad we have succeeded in reaching an agreement on the disposal of nuclear waste in the future," German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel told parliament.
The upper house of parliament will vote on the deal on Friday and is expected to give the pact the green light since it follows proposals from a government-appointed commission made up of representative from the four major parties.
($1 = 0.9521 euros)
(Reporting by Caroline Copley; Editing by Michelle Martin)