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The EEG Clearing House – Fast Track Dispute Settlement in the Renewable Energy Sector

I. Overview

The Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety has established a clearing house under the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG) which started operations in October 2007. The clearing house settles disputes and tackles application issues arising under the EEG. Its services are free of charge for all stakeholders who have obligations or rights under the EEG. In the case of a dispute the clearing house will act and try to provide solutions or arbitration, if all stakeholders wish so. It does not offer unilateral legal advice or project consulting.

II. Proceedings

The clearing house may instigate three types of action:

Conciliatory action: Two or more parties seek a viable solution to a potential or existing conflict. The clearing house acts as a neutral mediator and provides expertise equally to all parties involved. To avoid lengthy court proceedings the clearing house offers out-of-court arbitration methods. Conciliatory action is subject to strict confidentiality. Legally binding agreements can only be made by the parties themselves, e.g. in the form of a conciliation at the conclusion of a conciliatory action.

Vote action: Parties turn to the clearing house as an expert body which assesses a specific case. The vote of the clearing house is not legally binding. Only the parties involved can make it legally binding – through conciliation for instance. Selected results are published in an anonymous manner.

Recommendation action: Here the focus is on general EEG-related application or interpretation issues. The clearing house itself launches these proceedings upon suggestion by grid or plant operators, lobby associations, authorities or interested citizens. There are no parties in a recommendation action. The clearing house involves stakeholders in the decision-making process by asking associations to nominate assessors and by allowing all stakeholders to submit positions. In doing so the clearing house recognises stakeholder expertise and interests and thus contributes to avoiding disputes in the first place. All recommendations of the clearing house are published.

The clearing house’s rules of procedure (www.clearingstelle-eeg.de/verfahrensordnung, in German) set the framework of the type of action for all stakeholders.

III. Public participation

Accredited associations, other interest groups and public authorities can be part of a recommendation or vote action.

In a recommendation action, registered public institutions or associations – in addition to participating through the two non-permanent assessors – have an opportunity to submit their view on issues in question which relate to the interpretation or application of the EEG. The idea is to gather information on the host of interests involved.

Above and beyond this, parties may ask the clearing house during the vote action to request an association or any other interest group to dispatch a non-permanent assessor to the proceedings. These non-permanent assessors may then contribute to the vote action with their vote and their competence.

In order to be involved in recommendation or vote action proceedings, associations, other interest groups and public authorities must register with the clearing house. Part A (Teil A) of the Annex to the rules of procedure of the clearing house (VerfO) comprises accredited associations and interest groups (register of stakeholders) whereas Part B comprises public authorities (register of public authorities).

IV. Expert discussions

Several times a year the clearing house hosts expert discussions geared to promoting a scientific and societal exchange of views on the Renewable Energy Sources Act, to informing about its activities and to obtaining new impetus for its own work.

V. Database

On its website the clearing house provides a comprehensive range of relevant acts and regulations, court decisions, studies, expert opinions and programmatic papers.

VI. Set-up of the clearing house

The Clearing house consists of three members: a chairperson and two permanent assessors. All of them are fully qualified lawyers. There is also a coordinator for legal science, a coordinator for engineering/economics as well as two additional staff. Members and coordinators are experts on legal and technical aspects of renewable energy and out-of-court dispute settlement.

VII. Contact

Clearingstelle EEG
Kontorhaus Hefter
Charlottenstraße 65
10117 Berlin
Fax.: (030) 2061416-79

Email: info(at)clearingstelle-eeg.de
Homepage: www.clearingstelle-eeg.de/english