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PreussenElektra (Preußische Elektrizitäts AG) was a German electric company that existed from 1927 to 2000. From its founding until around 1970, it was owned (directly or indirectly) by the Republic of Prussia and the Federal Republic of Germany. From 1929 until 2000, it was a subsidiary of VEBA.
PreussenElektra was founded in 1927 with headquarters in Berlin and operated two thermal power stations, Borken in Hesse and Ahlem in Hanover, and eight hydroelectric stations. During its existence, it was the electric utility for Schleswig-Holstein, Lower Saxony, and parts of North Rhine-Westphalia and Hesse.
PreussenElektra was established on the basis of a law governing the participation of the state in electricity companies. According to this law, the newly formed company was to oversee the electricity interests of the Prussian state which, in addition to its state in the founding companies of PreussenElektra, included the Nordwestdeutsche Kraftwerke AG (NWK). NWK was founded by Siemens & Halske at the turn of the century, under the name Siemens Elektrische Betriebe, in order to create markets both at home and abroad for electrical equipment manufactured by Siemens. In 1925 the Prussian state acquired the majority shareholding and the company became known as the Nordwestdeutsche Kraftwerke Aktiengesellschaft. Until their formal merger in 1985, PreussenElektra and NWK cooperated very closely in all aspects of electricity supply.
From 1928 to 1931, through a series of joint ventures and acquisitions, PreussenElektra laid the foundations of its production and supply network. In common with other major German electricity utilities, PreussenElektra worked closely with local municipal authorities and during this period founded several regional electricity supply undertakings in partnership with these authorities. These new ventures included the Schleswig-Holsteinische Stromversorgungs-AG, today known as the SCHLESWAG AG Rendsburg; the Stromsversorgungs-AG Oldenburg-Friedland, now known as the Energieversorgung Weser-Ems AG/EWE, Oldenburg; the Elektrizitäts-Aktiengesellschaft Mitteldeutschland (EAM), Kassel; and the Hannover-Braunschweigische Stromversorgungs-AG (HASTRA).
The result of this extensive activity and expansion was that by 1937 the annual electricity output of PreussenElektra exceeded one billion kWh. From the point of view of acquisitions, the following decades were much quieter but expansion continued through organic growth—that is, through the development of existing facilities and the construction of new ones.
Effects of World War II
World War II caused severe disruption to the German electricity industry which was a strategic target for Allied bombers. The construction of the hard coal station Lahde, for example, which began in 1941, was interrupted several times by the war and was finally stopped by it. It was not until 1951 that the Lahde power station—renamed Heyden in 1953-entered the PreussenElektra supply network. This station was still in operation at the beginning of the 1990s with an installed capacity of 740MW.
The war did not inhibit all construction work. In 1942-1943, the first expansion of NWK's Lübeck Siems works was completed—a further 50MW expansion took place in 1950-1951—and PreussenElektra's first 110 kilovolt (kV) line went into operation, connecting Lübeck, Lüneberg, Harburg, and Farge.
After the war, electricity production and distribution in the part of PreussenElektra's supply area that was located in the new state of East Germany came under state control and the headquarters of PreussenElektra were moved from Berlin to Hanover in 1947.
In 1957 PreussenElektra and NWK, together with other electricity utilities, founded the Studiengesellschaft für Kernkrafte GmbH, a research company dedicated to the study of the utilization of nuclear power in electricity production. By 1990 nuclear power was to account for over 60% of PreussenElektra's electricity production, the largest nuclear share of any of the major German electricity utilities.
During the early 1960s NWK began its cooperation with electric utilities from neighboring countries. In 1961-1962 NWK collaborated with the Danish utility Det Jyskfynske Elsamarbedje (ELSAM; now DONG Energy) in the completion of the 220kV link from Flensburg to Aabenraa in Denmark: a further link between the power station at Schilling and Audorf was also under construction. Shortly afterwards, Vattenfall, ELSAM and NWK agreed to link Sweden, Denmark (Jutland and Funen), and northwest Germany through the building of a direct connection, known as Konti-Skan, from Gothenburg to Aalborg. This link, which was to be jointly managed, went into operation in 1964.
The Danish connection grew stronger over the coming years. In 1974 NWK decided to build a 600MW power station in cooperation with ELSAM and Sønderjyllands Højspændingsværk in Aabenraa. In order to smooth supply peaks and troughs, PreussenElektra engages in supply exchanges with utilities in Denmark, the Netherlands, and France, and from 1990 with Switzerland.
Integration with East Germany
Plans for reconstruction of the East German electricity network were set out in the German Electricity Agreement of August 22, 1990. According to this agreement PreussenElektra, Bayernwerk, and RWE held joint responsibility for overhauling the antiquated, inefficient, and environmentally harmful electricity supply industry in East Germany. PreussenElektra and RWE held 35% each and Bayernwerk 30% of the holding company, which had as its subsidiaries Vereinigte Kraftwerks A.G. Peitz (lignite-power stations) and Verbundnetz Elektroenergie A.G. (the high tension network).
At the beginning of 1991 these two companies were merged to form the company VEAG (Vereinigte Energiewerke AG). After the merger of VEBA, the parent company of PreussenElektra, and VIAG, the owner of Bayernwerk, in 2000, PreussenElektra merged with Bayernwerk to form E.ON Energie, a subsidiary of E.ON. At the same time VEAG was sold to Hamburgische Elektricitäts-Werke AG (HEW), now 50Hertz Transmission GmbH.