German coal-mining states might get more support for coal exit

BERLIN, Jan 16 (Reuters) - Germany’s coal-mining states might get more compensation than initially expected for the country’s planned exit from coal, according to participants in a meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The meeting, which took place on Tuesday, was positive and could result in an agreement in the next 10 days on a roadmap for Germany’s exit from coal, Saxony-Anhalt state premier Reiner Haseloff said.

“I think that’s possible,” Haseloff said.

A government-appointed committee, dubbed the coal commission, is working on a plan on how to phase out brown coal mining and coal-fired power plants without leaving affected regions structurally weak and with thousands of job losses.

Operators of such plants include RWE and Uniper , which have asked for fair compensation should their plants be mothballed or closed ahead of time.

Manufacturers may also ask for compensation should electricity prices rise as a result of lower supply from comparably inexpensive coal-fired plants.

The commission pledged 1.5 billion euros ($1.7 billion) in support in a draft agreement published last year, while affected German states have called for several tens of billions of euros.

Michael Kretschmer, Saxony’s state premier, said that the message that more support was needed had sunk in during Tuesday’s meeting, which was also attended by Finance Minister Olaf Scholz.

“Everyone knows it is not enough,” Kretschmer said referring to the proposed 1.5 billion euros in support.

The commission plans to publish its findings on Jan. 25 and no later than Feb. 1, including a timeline for when Germany’s last coal-fired power station will go offline. Experts expect that date to land between 2035 and 2040.

$1 = 0.8783 euros Reporting by Markus Wacket; Writing by Christoph Steitz