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German cabinet agrees compensation for utilities due to nuclear exit

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BERLIN (Reuters) - Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet agreed on Wednesday to grant compensation of up to 1 billion euros to utilities for income lost due to Germany’s planned phasing out of nuclear power, the environment ministry said.

A Constitutional Court ruled in 2016 that a decision in 2011 to decommission nuclear power stations by the end of 2022 violated some property rights, clearing the way to compensation but leaving the amount open.

Utilities affected include RWE RWEG.DE, Vattenfall and E.ON EONGn.DE.

A draft law seen by Reuters was drawn up last month, stating that the amount would probably be in the high three-digit-million euros range.

A ministry spokesman said he could not put an exact figure on the compensation.

The cabinet agreed that utilities could now demand financial compensation for investments in nuclear power plants made between October 2010 and March 2011.

Merkel’s government decided in October 2010 to push back a decommission date for nuclear power plants by several years, causing companies to invest in their sites.

But only several months later, the government decided to scrap its earlier decision and speed up the nuclear phase out in light of the Fukushima reactor explosion in Japan.

The cabinet also agreed that RWE and Vattenfall should get “adequate financial compensation” for electricity at closed nuclear power plants at Brunsbuettel, Kruemmel and Muelheim-Kaerlich.

Reporting by Madeline Chambers; editing by Michael Nienaber and Jason Neely