March 22, 2018 / 10:56 AM / in a month

German court says energy regulator's grid fee cuts too high

DUESSELDORF (Reuters) - A German court on Thursday said the energy regulator would damage the profits of gas and power grid operators by cutting the returns on their network investments too severely.

The Higher Regional Court in Dusseldorf upheld complaints by 1,100 network companies against the plan in a decision which can be appealed against within one month.

The return on equity for operators of gas and power grids is set by Germany’s Federal Network Agency (BnetzA), which plans to cut the return to 6.91 percent from 9.05 percent for new networks and to 5.12 percent from 7.14 percent for old grids.

Grid operators including Amprion, in which RWE holds a minority stake, and 50Hertz, which owned by Belgium’s Elia and asset manager IFM Investors, filed lawsuits to have the decision reversed.

The new rates, set for five years, are to kick in from 2018 for gas grids and from 2019 for power networks, with a one percentage point change cutting sales by an estimated 1 billion euros. BnetzA must weigh the potential welfare of consumers, for whom the grid fees constitute around a quarter of retail bills, against the need to be fair to operators.

Reporting by Tom Kaeckenhoff, writing by Vera Eckert, editing by Tom Sims

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