Amid energy uncertainty, German state urges southern firms to move

BERLIN - The north-west German state of Lower Saxony risked stoking tensions with Bavaria over energy policy on Saturday by urging companies from the southern region to move north to secure stable power supplies.

Bavaria has sparked frustration in Lower Saxony by opposing power lines planned to carry electricity from the breezy north to the industrial heartland in the south.

In a light-hearted, half-page advertisement in Bavaria's Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper, Lower Saxony's Economy Minister Olaf Lies said power-hungry companies in the south such as Siemens and BMW should just relocate. "If the electricity won't come to you, simply come to the electricity. Move your company direct to the source of power: to the state with energy, to Lower Saxony," he wrote.

Bowing to public protests, Bavarian premier Horst Seehofer has withdrawn support for the new power lines and suggested Bavaria could instead build up its gas-fired power capacity for the time when nuclear plants in the south are switched off in 2022 - a deadline set after Japan's 2011 Fukushima disaster.

The power lines are, however, seen as crucial for Germany's switch away from fossil fuels and nuclear power towards renewable sources and vital to avoid bottlenecks and electricity shortages.

Should the lines not be built, southern companies could be forced to pay more for electricity than firms in the north, Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel has warned.

Bavaria clashed with the national government on Friday by opposing plans to locate one of four interim storage sites for nuclear waste in the southern state.