EU launches probe over German renewables law: draft letter

BERLIN (Reuters) - The European Commission is opening an investigation into Germany's renewable energy law (EEG), according to a draft letter sent by European Union Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia to the German government and seen by Reuters.

Germany collects surcharges from power users to help fund operators of wind and solar power plants. Heavy electricity users such as cement, steel and chemical plants are exempt from the surcharge to keep them from being priced out of the global market, but Brussels believes this may distort competition.

The Commission can ask governments to recover aid granted to companies if this is found to have breached EU rules.

(Reporting by Markus Wacket; Writing by Alexandra Hudson; Editing by Noah Barkin)