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Unfazed by Trump, Innogy sticks with U.S. wind expansion plans

BERLIN (Reuters) - Innogy <IGY.DE>, Germany's largest energy group, sees no reason to scrap plans to enter the U.S. onshore wind market, its chief executive said, unimpressed by worries over future support of renewables in the wake of Donald Trump's presidency.

"We are not in waiting mode in the United States. We are relatively advanced," Peter Terium told journalists at the annual Handelsblatt energy conference.

"We do it because wind is a competitive technology in the United States," he said, adding that Innogy, in which RWE <RWEG.DE> holds 76.8 percent, would likely open its first local wind park in 2018, even though it could still be later.

The election of Trump has led to concern among renewable investors, who are afraid that his fossil-fuel friendly stance might come at the expense of solar and wind power.

Unlike peer E.ON <EONGn.DE>, which operates several billion euros worth of assets in the United States, mostly onshore wind, Innogy has so far not managed to enter the market.

While not expecting a hit to future business, Terium said he was "deeply anxious" on a personal level about Trump's election.

"It's catastrophic that the country that stands for democracy, equality and openness would do something like that (electing Trump) to itself. But it's a fact."

Being asked about Innogy's troubled British unit npower, which is one of the big six power providers there, Terium said that the current restructuring was ahead of schedule.

Problems at npower emerged in mid-2015, when it warned of a rapid loss of customers as well as billing issues that effectively prevented it from charging clients.

Terium said that he was worried about the state of the British power market, where large producers face political pressure to cut prices and accept margin pressure.

(Reporting by Christoph Steitz and Tom Kaeckenhoff)

 

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