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Uniper seeks court ruling over Dutch coal exit

3 minute read

The logo of German energy utility company Uniper SE is pictured in the company's headquarters in Duesseldorf, Germany, March 10, 2020. REUTERS/Thilo Schmuelgen

FRANKFURT, April 16 (Reuters) - Uniper (UN01.DE) is seeking a court ruling on whether plans by the Netherlands to shut all coal-fired power plants in the country are legal, the German-based utility said on Friday.

Under the Dutch plans, Uniper's 1.07 gigawatt (GW) Maasvlakte MPP 3 plant must close by Jan. 1, 2030, about 15 years after it was opened.

"Uniper has consistently expressed its concerns to the ministry and members of Parliament and the Senate about the fact that the law is lacking sufficient compensation," Uniper said.

"In Uniper's view, this law is unbalanced as Uniper cannot execute its ownership rights, but is also not compensated."

The Dutch government said in 2018 it would ban the use of coal in electricity generation in this decade, shutting all coal-fired plants by 2030.

Economy minister Bas van 't Wout said on Friday all interests involved had been carefully weighed in the law, which gives owners of coal-fired plants the option of switching to more sustainable types of fuel before the end of the decade.

Owners also should have considered the possible end of coal in the Netherlands, he wrote in a letter to parliament, as the need to cut greenhouse gas emissions has been clear for a long time.

Finland's Fortum (FORTUM.HE), Uniper's majority owner since early 2020, told Reuters the decision did not mean the company would oppose ending coal combustion, but rather fulfils its duty to shareholders.

"It is the fiduciary duty of the management to seek to obtain legal certainty on whether it is justified to leave a plant that is being prematurely closed without compensation", Esa Hyvarinen, head of the office of Fortum's CEO, said.

Uniper's decision to seek a court ruling come after larger peer RWE (RWEG.DE) in February filed a lawsuit to seek compensation from the Dutch government for the planned shutdown of its 1.56 GW Eemshaven plant.

Reporting by Christoph Steitz and Tom Kaeckenhoff; Editing by David Holmes and Caroline Copley

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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