The European Commission concluded that the German plans to grant reductions on offshore surcharges to electro-intensive users and railways are in line with EU State aid rules, because they will contribute to the competitiveness of these companies without unduly distorting competition in the Single Market.
Following an amendment to the German Energy Act (EnWG), as of 2019 the costs of connecting offshore wind installations to the main electricity grid will be financed via an offshore surcharge (Offshore-Netzumlage), to be paid by electricity consumers.
The amended German Energy Act also provides for reductions from this offshore surcharge for certain electro-intensive industrial users, as well as for railway companies. The reductions will confer an advantage to these companies, as it will lower their financial burden compared to other companies that will not benefit from them.
These reductions in offshore surcharges were notified to the Commission for review under State aid rules. Under the investigation, the reductions on electro-intensive users are proportionate and they are limited to companies that are active in sectors exposed to international trade. As regards railway companies, the reductions help to limit the rail sector’s electricity costs, improving the competitiveness of rail transport compared to other more polluting forms of transport.