Mon, Dec. 05, 2005

Utilities' Snowjob

CK - Washington.   The trains is no longer run as punctually as they used to, and now German utility customers find something to gripe about. Recent snowfall cut off entire regions from the power grid, and there is concern that utilities have adopted practices commonly seen in America: Minimum maintenance, reliance on limitations on liability, and repair when things break badly.

Unsaddled by the patience that American consumers display after outages, Germany rebels, and lawyers in blogs and elsewhere examine the liability of utilities. The utilities claim force majeure but nobody believes their whitewash.

On December 5, 2005, the Münster district court Steinfurt local court ordered an expert review of the state of the transmission lines in the most affected region as part of an evidentiary proceeding. Meanwhile, the RWE utility set up a 5 million Euro fund to assist in hardship cases. The fund is being administered by representatives from the Borken and Steinfurt counties, two utility representatives and two state level government employees.

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