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Energy

German utility Eon causes unease over nuclear plant shutdown plan

Germany's utility company Eon has announced plans to shut down a nuclear power station more than half a year earlier than planned under the nation's energy transition scheme. Local politicians are alarmed.

Following the closure of some coal-powered plants, German utility giant Eon confirmed Friday it would also close down its nuclear power station at Grafenrheinfeld in the state of Bavaria, noting it would do so seven months ahead of a deadline necessitated by the country's huge energy transition scheme also involving the complete nuclear phase-out by the mid 2020s.

Eon said it was hoping to shut its plant at the end of May 2015, saying "the reason for this decision was a lack of plant profitability." The company added it had informed the Federal Network Agency (FNA) and the network operator Tennet about its plans.

The energy firm argued that from a business point of view, a longer exploitation of the Grafenrheinfeld plant would not make any sense, given the considerable taxes it would have to pay for installing new fuel rods.

Risky move?

Germany’s energy transition in an international context

Eon said the taxes would otherwise be levied until the end of 2016 which made an earlier shutdown of the station look reasonable also with a view to shareholders' interests.

Rumors about the company considering closing its plant well ahead of schedule had already been floated last week and had prompted a warning by Bavaria's State Premier, Horst Seehofer.

The politician from the conservative Christian Social Union, sister party of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Party, said he feared an early closure could severely disrupt energy supply security in his state.

Seehofer had told the" Süddeutsche Zeitung" newspaper he was thinking about offering Eon a tax break in helping it rethink its decision. But network operator Tennet maintained Friday the shutdown would in no way pose a risk to the stable supply of energy to Bavarian companies and households.

hg/dr (AFP, Reuters)

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