Germany’s Environment Minister Jurgen Trittin has called for a comprehensive breakdown of trade in carbon dioxide emissions permits by the country’s four major utilities.

The move follows suggestions by the energy intensive users group, VIK, that RWE, E.On, EnBW and Vattenfall Europe were using high carbon prices to push up wholesale power prices. According to local media reports, Trittin has asked for details of all trades concluded since 1 January when the EU Emissions Trading Scheme was launched.

Trittin was cited as saying that it was completely incomprehensible that utilities had attributed permits allocated cost-free as the reason for higher electricity prices, despite the fact that carbon permit prices have risen to record highs over the last six months.

The environmental ministry is planning to hand some 1.2 billion emissions certificates over 2005-2007 which be traded among energy producers.