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Berlin to hold talks with utility firms over power plant strategy on Thursday - sources

FILE PHOTO: Power-generating windmill turbines and power lines are seen in a snow-covered wind park in Krauschwitz

By Markus Wacket and Christoph Steitz

BERLIN/FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Senior policymakers will hold talks with Germany's top utilities over the country's planned power plant strategy on Thursday, three people familiar with the matter said, the latest effort to make progress on the long-awaited piece of legislation.

Earlier this week, talks between the Chancellor's Office and the Finance and Economy ministries failed to produce a result, leaving the regulatory framework for around 15 gigawatt of full or partially gas-fired power plant capacity the country needs hanging in the balance.

Stakeholders will meet for a fresh round of talks on Thursday, the sources said, adding that top level representatives of the country's largest power firms, including RWE and Uniper, would participate.

The talks are aimed at ironing out questions such as possible plant locations and the level of public funding needed, the people said.

RWE, Uniper and the Economy Ministry all declined to comment.

The plan, with an estimated cost of 40 billion euros ($43.5 billion), is part of Germany's attempts to avoid power shortages as it phases out coal in favour of renewable generation.

Utilities have repeatedly criticised Berlin for failing to provide a clear regulatory framework for the strategy, saying they can only build new gas-fired power stations if there is some level of public support.

The power plant strategy was meant to be completed last year, but was delayed after a constitutional court ruled out some 60 billion euros earmarked for climate projects and forced the government to revise its budget.

($1 = 0.9191 euros)

(Reporting by Markus Wacket and Christoph Steitz, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien)