Six federal states are defending themselves against the threat of higher electricity prices due to a lower expansion of wind power – including Baden-Württemberg. A uniform electricity price zone is a central expression of a single German economic area, write the prime ministers of Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, Hesse, North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland in a joint declaration published in Berlin on Friday. "A weakening of the economically strong countries of the South and the West cannot be in the interest of the Federal Government or the North German states."

In their four-page paper, the representatives of the southwestern federal states call for the preservation of a uniform German electricity price zone, an accelerated expansion of renewable energies and a Germany-wide rapid ramp-up of hydrogen as a future more climate-friendly energy source. Above all, they see the danger of being left behind in the development of the future hydrogen supply or by a cheaper electricity price in the north. "The separation of the price zones would have further serious negative effects," warn the six country leaders.

Numerous demands

They also insist on an accelerated expansion of the electricity transmission networks by the Federal Network Agency, the rapid expansion of gas-fired power plants that can also be operated with hydrogen in the future, better framework conditions for storage and the introduction of a cheaper electricity price for industry. The countries also support a temporary subsidised industrial electricity price, but warn against a "regional or sectoral distortion of competition". In addition, they call on Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) not to allow too much centralization of decisions in energy policy by the Federal Network Agency. In this way, the existing influence of the federal states on the regulation of the networks via the Bundesrat should be maintained. The state premiers are also calling for state opening clauses in federal laws in order to enable the states to open up more extensive land for renewable energies. All six are committed to accelerating the expansion of renewable energies.

The background to this are demands in northern Germany to be able to benefit more from the cheaper green electricity produced there, for example through wind power. At present, electricity prices in the north are sometimes higher than in the south, which is increasingly being met with resentment. One reason for the problems is the sluggish expansion of high-performance power lines to the more populous south and west, where a larger proportion of the existing industrial plants are located. However, green hydrogen is likely to be produced mainly in the north due to cheap wind power.

Unusual merger

The cross-party appearance of the six heads of state is unusual. "We are working together to expand the hydrogen infrastructure across borders in the south and west," said Rhineland-Palatinate's Minister-President Malu Dreyer (SPD). Throughout Germany, a uniform, reliable and affordable energy supply must be guaranteed, demands Baden-Württemberg's state leader Winfried Kretschmann (Greens). "I am therefore very clearly against any division of the electricity market in Germany into different price zones," he said, similar to Bavaria's head of state Markus Söder (CSU). NRW Prime Minister Hendrik Wüst (CDU) called for the development of a cross-border European hydrogen infrastructure. "So we have to get the electricity and hydrogen to where it's needed."

From the point of view of Federal Minister of Economics Robert Habeck (Greens), different electricity price zones in Germany are a response to the backlog in the expansion of wind energy in southern Germany. Those who promote the expansion of energy from wind and sun should also have locational advantages.