CEZ complains to EU over Romania

Czech state-controlled utility CEZ has lodged a complaint with the European Commission (EC) over delays by Romania in paying renewable energy subsidies that will cost the company millions of euros a year.

CEZ operates Europe’s largest onshore wind farm in Romania – the 600MW Fantanele-Cogealac facility, located some 17km from the shore of the Black Sea in the province of Dobruja.

Romania’s government decided in June to stop paying some renewable subsidies for several years and to cut the issuing of green certificates to avoid over-paying to investors and to curb power price rises.

The Czech utility claims that retroactively changing the rules conflicted with the basic principles of the EU.

The Romanian Wind Energy Association has criticised the country’s proposed changes to the law, which gives renewable power producers green certificates for each megawatt hour generated and obliges suppliers to get more of the power they sell from renewables.

Under the law approved in June, the Romanian government will postpone paying some of the certificates until the end of 2017.

From 1 July until 2017 new wind projects will only get one green certificate instead of two, while solar projects will see their allowance cut to four from six.  The maximum value of the certificates will also be cut from €55 ($71.50) to €30.

In a statement CEZ said it is currently impossible to quantify its potential loss, which will only start to become apparent in 2018.

But it claimed: “This step is in conflict with the basic law principles of the EU, in particular with the claim to freedom of settlement of business entities and free movement of capital,” said the utility.

Overseas investors have ploughed billions of euros into wind, solar and other green projects in Romania, tempted by the prospect of earning payouts for generating a certain amount of renewable electricity.

The EC says it is looking at similar complaints over the changes from other companies involved in Romania’s renewable energy sector.

The Brussels body added that it will produce guidance on renewables support schemes.