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EU probes Germany's energy discounts for industry

Wednesday - 3/6/2013, 6:17am  ET

BRUSSELS (AP) -- The European Commission has formally launched an investigation to find out whether an energy price reduction granted to industrial clients in Germany is a hidden form of state aid.

The Commission, which is also the 27-nation bloc's antitrust watchdog, said the exemption for large electricity consumers from paying network charges amounted to EUR300 million ($390) last year alone and may put competitors in other member states at a disadvantage.

Germany exempted its industry from the charge to keep rising electricity costs in check as the country switches from nuclear power to renewable energies over the coming nine years. Industry lobbies complained the country's rising energy costs would undermine German firms' competitiveness.

The charge is rolled over to small German electricity consumers who pay more because of the industry exemption.

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