January 27, 2015 / 3:36 PM / 4 years ago

FACTBOX-German utilities seek billions in nuclear lawsuits

Jan 27 (Reuters) - Germany’s big four utilities are seeking at least 18.4 billion euros ($21 billion) in various lawsuits related to the country’s nuclear policy, including its programme to pull out of the technology completely by 2022.

NUCLEAR EXIT:

- Vattenfall, E.ON and RWE have filed complaints with Germany’s highest court against the government’s decision to close all nuclear plants in the country by 2022, faster than under an initial withdrawal programme and triggered by Japan’s Fukushima nuclear accident in 2011.

- E.ON is suing for 8 billion euros. RWE has not commented on the possible size of claims but experts reckon it will be several billions of euros.

- Vattenfall, whose group headquarters are in Sweden, has also filed a lawsuit with the Washington-based International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), where it is seeking 4.7 billion euros in damages.

THREE-MONTH NUCLEAR SHUTDOWN IN SUMMER 2011:

- E.ON filed a lawsuit last year seeking 380 million euros in damages over the government’s moratorium on nuclear production after the Fukushima disaster that led to the permanent closure of Germany’s eight oldest reactors. These included E.ON’s Unterweser and Isar 1.

- RWE is seeking 235 million euros from the federal government and Hesse for the enforced shutdown of its Biblis A and B plants.

- EnBW in December filed a claim for damages against Baden Wuerttemberg, seeking a low three-digit million euro sum for the closures of Neckarwestheim 1 and Philippsburg 1.

- Vattenfall’s two German reactors, Brunsbuettel and Kruemmel, were inactive in 2011, so did not become subject to the moratorium.

STORAGE OF RE-PROCESSED NUCLEAR WASTE:

- E.ON and Vattenfall have filed lawsuits against three German states (Bavaria, Lower Saxony, Schleswig-Holstein) and the federal government, rejecting a 2014 law that banned transporting re-processed nuclear waste to a central storage site at Gorleben and stipulating it be stored at sites near nuclear reactors instead. The utilities say the transport ban is politically motivated and on-site storage incurs additional costs they should not have to bear.

- RWE has filed similar lawsuits concerning the sites of its Biblis, Lingen and Gundremmingen reactors in Hesse, Lower Saxony and Bavaria.

- As EnBW is majority state-owned, it will not sue the government over this issue.

NUCLEAR FUEL TAX:

- A Hamburg court has reached a preliminary decision that could lead to German utilities being refunded more than 3 billion euros in nuclear fuel taxes levied by the government and fed into the general budget.

The Hamburg Financial Court said last year it had granted a request by E.ON and RWE and ordered the central customs offices to pay back sums those two had paid.

The decision is not legally binding. In November, the complaint against the tax was referred to the European Court of Justice, the EU’s highest court.

- EnBW has also filed a lawsuit against the fuel tax with a court in Freiburg.

The fuel element tax, introduced in 2011 and due to expire 2016, requires firms to pay 145 euros per gram of nuclear fuel each time they exchange a fuel rod, usually about twice a year.

$1 = 0.8883 euros Reporting by Vera Eckert, Chris Steitz and Tom Kaeckenhoff; Editing by Mark Potter

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