* Federal court backs last year's decision by Hesse court
* RWE could claim 187 million euros -industry analysts
* Shares rise 4.3 percent
(Adds RWE spokeswoman, environment ministry, context)
By Christoph Steitz and Tom Käckenhoff
DUESSELDORF/FRANKFURT, Jan 14 Germany's No.2
utility RWE is preparing to sue for millions of euros
of damages after a federal court confirmed that a state's
decision to shut down the company's Biblis nuclear plant for
three months in 2011 was illegal.
A spokeswoman for RWE said it planned to take action against
the German state of Hesse, which ordered the closure of Biblis,
Germany's oldest nuclear plant, as a precaution following the
disaster at Japan's Fukushima plant nearly three years ago.
"Preparations for a lawsuit are being made," the spokeswoman
said on Tuesday.
RWE is the only utility to have taken legal steps over
three-month shutdowns, which the states of Hesse, Lower Saxony,
Bavaria and Baden-Wuerttemberg imposed on Germany's seven oldest
nuclear plants at the time.
RWE had filed a complaint in April 2011 against Hesse. Last
February, the Hesse Administrative Court said the order had been
illegal, a decision that was backed by Germany's Leipzig-based
Federal Administrative Court on Tuesday.
Hesse's Environment Minister Lucia Puttrich said the
court's ruling could not be seen as a preliminary decision on
whether RWE could assert damage claims against the state of
Hesse. This would have to be determined in a separate suit, she
said in an emailed statement.
Shares in RWE, Germany's second largest utility by market
value after E.ON, rose after the news and were up 4.4
percent, topping the German benchmark DAX index.
The Fukushima disaster later also triggered Germany's
decision to exit nuclear power by 2022, forcing Germany's top
utilities - E.ON, RWE, EnBW and Vattenfall -
to book billions of euros of writedowns and cut thousands of
E.ON, RWE and Vattenfall have filed constitutional
complaints with Germany's highest court against this decision,
claiming billions of euros in compensation. A decision could
come as soon as this year, the court has said.
"The decision of the Federal Administrative Court has to be
respected. But the decision does not change the fact that
pulling out of nuclear power is irreversible," a spokesman for
Germany's Environment Ministry said.
The spokeswoman for RWE declined to comment on the potential
size of the claims over Biblis but industry analysts have
estimated that RWE suffered about 187 million euros ($255
million) in damages as a consequence of the forced shut-down.
Biblis has remained idled since 2011 largely as a result of
Germany's wider decision to phase out nuclear power.
RWE estimates that dismantling its two reactors at Biblis
will cost 1.5 billion euros, excluding storage costs for the
($1 = 0.7324 euros)
(Editing by Anthony Barker)