E.on’s acquisition of Innogy would create customer energy data monopoly, claims rival utility

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From pv magazine Germany.

Liberalization of the German power market was intended to make monopolies a thing of the past but, according to green electricity supplier Lichtblick, E.on would command an unassailable position if allowed to acquire RWE subsidiary Innogy.

According to an analysis by consultants LBD, the resulting enlarged E.on would sprawl across two-thirds of Germany, becoming the largest power supplier in East Germany, North Rhine-Westphalia, Hesse, Rhineland-Palatinate, Saarland and Bavaria. In those areas, where E.on controls much of the grid network, the company’s market share would be more than 70%.

Pointing to the results of the analysis it commissioned, Hamburg-based Lichtblick wants the European Commission to block the planned merger.

“The plans of the two energy giants are aimed at ending the competitive electricity market in Germany,” said Gero Lücking, managing director of energy management at Lichtblick. “The victims are the electricity customers, who have to reckon with higher energy prices. The antitrust authorities have to stop the project.”

E.on could become energy data giant

Lichtblick claims the high returns available from such an impregnable position in the energy supply and network operation would permit E.on an unfair advantage in more competitive energy markets, where it has a presence with more than 160 electricity brands and 840 tariffs.

The Hamburg power company says an enlarged E.on may also be able to effectively monopolize the roll-out of smart meters in Germany as the proposed acquisition of Innogy would hand it control of more than 20 million of the current electric meters. Lichtblick says a stranglehold on smart meter deployment, plus control of large swathes of the grid, would see E.on become the energy industry’s leading data group.

Customer data is the future gold of the energy industry,” said Lücking. “This will create completely new business areas. For this future market, E.on creates an unprecedented starting position with the deal. E.on will depend on the competition [being left] in the starting blocks.” The Lichtblick boss completed his pessimistic view of the proposed acquisition by comparing E.on’s potential data dominance to the effective monopolies exercised by Amazon and Google – an appeal sure to hit home with European competition authorities who are trying to crack down on Silicon Valley’s tech giants.

E.on recently reported its intended acquisition of Innogy had been registered with the European Commission. Innogy parent company RWE had also announced the acquisition of the renewables business by E.on to Brussels. The transaction, if approved, is expected to be finalized in the first half of this year.