Rainer Baake Loose Cannon at the Ministry

Economics minister Brigitte Zypries plans to give a deputy minister from the Green Party more power over energy policy. That has caused energy sector professionals in Germany to fear a partisan backlash.
The 2000 Renewable Energy Sources Act is Mr. Baake’s brainchild.

Brigitte Zypries, Germany’s new economics minister, is giving more power to one of her deputies. She has said she wants to allow Rainer Baake, a deputy minister in charge of energy policy, greater leeway. But the move is causing concern in the utility industry, as some fear the Green Party politician might use the remaining eight months before federal elections to push forward his own partisan agenda.

Mr. Baake, 61, is one of the staunchest proponents of Germany’s energy transition towards renewables. As a deputy minister in the environment ministry under former chancellor Gerhard Schröder from 1998 to 2005, he was one of the main negotiators of Germany’s first nuclear phase-out law of 2002. The Renewable Energy Sources Act, which came into force in its first version in 2000, is also Mr. Baake’s brainchild.

Energy-sector executives fear that their demands towards the government will fall on unsympathetic ears if Mr. Baake is given free rein.

“Mr. Baake has made it clear in the past that he is no friend of our facilities,” a representative of a public utility that operates several small power stations told Handelsblatt. “We’re going to feel that,” he added.

Ms. Zypries’s ministry has rejected these concerns and called such speculation “total nonsense.” Mr. Baake does “a great job,” the economics ministry said in defense of the energy secretary.