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Germany hikes power charge to finance renewables

BERLIN -- Germany's electrical grid operators Monday said they were hiking by nearly 50 percent the charge to consumers that goes to finance subsidies for renewable energy as the country phases out nuclear power.

Consumers will be asked to pay 0.05277 euros (US$0.06839) per kilowatt hour of electricity consumed in 2013, the firms announced, compared to a 0.03592-euro surcharge this year.

For an average three-person house, this 47-percent increase amounts to an additional 60 euros per year to around 185 euros in add-on power taxes.

In total, the network operators hope to collect more than 20 billion euros to finance renewables.

On Thursday, German Environment Minister Peter Altmaier said that Europe's top economy wanted to have 40 percent of its energy needs from renewable sources by 2020, up from a previous target of 35 percent.

Germany decided in the immediate wake of Japan's 2011 Fukushima nuclear plant disaster to shut down its nuclear reactors by 2022 and ramp up the use of renewable energy.

Chancellor Angela Merkel has made the so-called “Energiewende,” the term used to describe both the end of nuclear power and the promotion of renewable energy sources, one of her government's priorities.

The policy, however, has run into difficulties, notably due to technical and financing problems as well because of local resistance to building new power lines.

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The sun rises behind electricity poles and wind turbines in Nauen, near Berlin, Germany, Friday, Oct. 12. Germany's tax on households' electricity bills to finance the expansion of renewable energies will rise almost 50 percent on the year as the country pushes ahead with phasing out nuclear power within a decade. (AP)

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