Friday, June 11, 2010

The mood at Intersolar on Bundesrat opposition

I returned from Intersolar on Wednesday night. One of the hot topics there is the decision by the Bundesrat to oppose the proposed rate reduction for solar power scheduled to take effect on July 1.

Essentially, the Bundesrat - a sort of "upper chamber" of Parliament which represents the interests of the individual German states (there are 16 of them) - vetoed the rate reduction even though it has no power to do so. According to all of the reading I have done (see this for instance), the Bundesrat merely forced the Bundestag (the "lower chamber" of Parliament which actually has the power) to take another vote on the matter.

The lower chamber is, however, currently in recess and cannot respond to the upper chamber's veto before July 1. Nonetheless, the lower chamber merely needs to take another vote for the rates to go into effect, apparently even retroactively. For instance, if the lower chamber were to adopt exactly the same new policy in mid July, everything could retroactively go into effect as of July 1.

It therefore seems that the upper chamber's opposition is merely symbolic.

Nonetheless, people at Intersolar were hopeful that some tweaking might still take place. For instance, the rate reduction might be reduced from 16 percent to 10 percent, and the ban on solar arrays on farmland might be lifted. And indeed, a meeting is scheduled to take place on June 16. But don't hold your breath -- it seems that no negotiation is necessary.

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