Friday, October 29, 2010

Spain Gets 907 Solar Parks to Accept Lower Price

Spain, seeking to hold down electricity prices, convinced 907 solar-power installations to receive lower subsidized rates in return for avoiding investigations over permit violations.

The solar parks, with a combined 64.6 megawatts in capacity, will avoid investigation of whether they illegally earned the highest subsidized rates, or feed-in tariffs, the Industry Ministry said today in a statement.

Savings to consumers, who pay the subsidies in their power bills, will total 430 million euros ($595 million) over 25 years, the government estimated. The amnesty group represents about 10 percent of the more than 9,000 installations the energy regulator is probing on suspicion of falsely claiming eligibility for the top rate.

“The 64.6 megawatts that signed up for the amnesty prove that there was a significant level of fraud,” Tomas Diaz, spokesman for the trade group ASIF said by e-mail. “They represent about 10 percent of the 600 to 800 megawatts in suspicious capacity, according to our calculations.”

Projects with 955 megawatts in capacity were sent letters in late September requesting all relevant paperwork be sent within two months, so more information on fraud levels and any related savings will be known in late November or early December, according to the trade group spokesman.

Spain is seeking to reduce the impact of solar energy on electricity bills as solar plants claimed more than half the 5 billion euros in renewable-power subsidies paid in 2009 while providing only about 11 percent of zero-emission power consumed.

The 907 generators will earn 32 euro cents a kilowatt-hour under the 2008 rule, instead of 46 cents under the 2007 law.

The government gave a two-month amnesty period on Aug. 6 to plants it suspected may have falsely claimed they met all of the criteria to earn the highest subsidized price available before it was reduced after September 2008.

Those found guilty in further investigations will lose all subsidies and could face legal actions, providing further savings to consumers, the ministry said.


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