RWE loses court row with Uniper over delayed coal plant

FILE PHOTO: The flag of Uniper SE flutters in front of the utility's firm headquarters previously used by German utility giant E.ON in Duesseldorf, Germany, June 8, 2016. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay/File Photo GLOBAL BUSINESS WEEK AHEAD SEARCH GLOBAL BUSINESS FOR ALL IMAGES?

ESSEN, Germany (Reuters) - A German court on Monday ruled that utility RWE RWEG.DE did not have the right the cancel a contract that committed it to buying power from a plant owned by rival Uniper UN01.DE.

Uniper last year sued RWE over the cancelled contract to buy power from the delayed hard coal-fired Datteln 4 plant, which has so far cost 1.2 billion euros ($1.5 billion) but has not produced any power.

RWE agreed in 2005 and 2006 to buy 450 megawatts (MW) of power ahead of the 1,055 MW plant’s planned opening in 2011, but delays have led Uniper to say this would not happen before the fourth quarter of 2018.

RWE cancelled the contracts to avoid paying high power wholesale prices, which have dwindled since the contract was agreed.

The most recent delays at Datteln 4 are due to a damaged boiler supplied by a joint venture of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries 7011.T and Hitachi 6501.T and Uniper last week said there was a risk the plant might open even later.

($1 = 0.8112 euros)

Reporting by Matthias Inverardi; Writing by Christoph Steitz and Ludwig Burger