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Cablegate: Germany's Oldest Power Plant, Obrigheim to Shut

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS FRANKFURT 011824

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EUR/AGS, EUR/ERA, AND EB
USDOC FOR 4212/ITA/MAC/EUR/AGS
DOE FOR INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS
DOE/NN30 MARK ROTH
TREAS FOR OASIA: ROBERT HARLOW, CAROL CARNES
DEPT FOR NP/SC WARREN STERN
NRC FOR BETTY WRIGHT

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ENRG ECON SENV PGOV GM EUN
SUBJECT: GERMANY'S OLDEST POWER PLANT, OBRIGHEIM TO SHUT
DOWN IN 2005: EXTENSION HARMED GREEN PARTY CREDIBILITY AND
NUCLEAR PHASEOUT PLANS


SENSITIVE

REF: FRANKFURT 09759

1. (SBU) Summary: Federal Environment Minister Juergen
Trittin and Energie Baden-Wuerttemberg (ENBW, Germany's
third largest energy supplier), have come to an agreement
for the shutdown of Germany's oldest nuclear reactor
Obrigheim on November 15, 2005. The 2003 shutdown of
Obrigheim was part of the Green Party "nuclear phaseout"
plan. But in late September, the Greens were forced by
Chancellor Schroeder (SPD) to accept a two-year, rather open-
ended operating extension for Obrigheim, which harmed their
credibility and cost them local political support in Baden-
Wuerttemberg. The B-W Greens are relieved at the new
development and a firm date for final shutdown. End
Summary.

2. (SBU) Originally, Obrigheim nuclear power plant,
Germany's oldest, was scheduled for shutdown in early 2003
as part of the SPD-Green coalitions "nuclear phaseout" plan.
(The plant is located near Heidelberg.) However, Chancellor
Schroeder's promised Gerhard Goll, CEO of ENBW, a two-year,
rather open-ended extension in late September, just a few
days after winning national elections. (Energy Baden-
Wuerttemberg, ENBW, is Germany's third largest energy
supplier.) The operating extension for Obrigheim led to
considerable strain in the SPD-Green Party national
coalition in Berlin and created turmoil with the southwest
Greens. The B-W Greens had been fighting to shut down
Obrigheim since the early 1980s. ENBW had originally asked
for a five-year extension until 2008. The two-year
compromise that was finally reached involved transferring
5.5 terawatt hours from the Philippsburg I plant (near
Karlsruhe) to Obrigheim. The B-W Greens, however, never
really accepted this compromise made at the national level.
In several conversations with B-W Greens, we were told that
there is considerable concern within the party that ENBW
would try to push the extension, via various loopholes,
beyond 2005. (Note: At the latest B-W Greens convention in
Esslingen, Greens caucus chief Winfried Kretschmann attacked
former national party chief Fritz Kuhn for accepting the
compromise. "You should have never agreed to the
extension," Kretschmann said. End Note.)

3. (SBU) The B-W Greens are relieved, now that ENBW is
accepting an official contract that determines November 15,
2005 as the final shutdown date. They feel now that a
contract is signed, ENBW cannot exploit tricks and loopholes
to push the extension beyond 2005. Individual party members
still criticized National Environment Minister Trittin for
not pushing Goll for an earlier date. Nevertheless,
Obrigheim will be shutdown well before the next B-W state
elections, in the spring of 2006. B-W Minister of
Economics, Walter Doering (FDP), criticized the planned
shutdown of the reactor, stating that alternative employment
opportunities will need to be found for the people affected.
However, the news lifts a big burden from the B-W Greens.
Already under attack for making too many compromises, the
Green Party's chances in the 2006 B-W state elections could
have been seriously harmed by Obrigheim's continued
operation beyond 2005. In addition, the Green rank and file
remains angry with its national leadership for accepting the
two-year extension in the first place. Minister Trittin's
surprise announcement will help to smooth ruffled feathers
in the southwest.

4. (U) This message has been coordinated with Embassy
Berlin.

BODDE

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