NewEnergyNews: NEW ENERGY INVESTORS TO SUE SPAIN

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    Friday, February 22, 2013

    NEW ENERGY INVESTORS TO SUE SPAIN

    Exclusive: Foreign investors set to sue Spain over energy reform

    February 14, 2013 (Reuters)

    “Foreign investors in renewable energy projects in Spain have hired lawyers to prepare potential international legal action against the Spanish government over new rules they say break their contracts…It is unclear how much claims might be worth, but international funds have more than 13 billion euros ($17 billion) of renewable energy assets in Spain and say that the government has reneged on the terms of their investment.

    “The Spanish Parliament [just] approved a law…[cutting] subsidies for alternative energy technologies, backtracking on its push for green power…That measure, along with other recent laws including a tax on power generation that hit green energy investments especially hard, will virtually wipe out profits for photovoltaic, solar thermal and wind plants, sector lobbyists say.”

    “International commercial law firm Allen & Overy…[represents] investors [from the United States, Japan and the United Arab Emirates who poured money into Spanish wind and solar projects, drawn to generous subsidies during a decade-long economic boom that helped the country to become one of the biggest markets for investments in green energy. But the cost of the subsidies were not passed on fully to consumers because that would have pushed prices to unprecedented highs]…

    “…[The claims are being made] under the…Energy Charter, an internationally ratified treaty that binds members to rules on energy and arbitration. [Spanish companies such as Acciona and Abengoa have also been hit hard by the new rules, but because it is passed as a decree by the government, Spain-based companies have virtually no form of appeal and will not join the claims…Spain's Industry Minister Jose Manuel Soria defended the law in Parliament…[by saying] the measures were necessary to eliminate the accumulated 28 billion euro ($37.4 billion) tariff deficit in the electricity system…That deficit, built up through years of the government holding down electricity prices at a level that would not cover regulated costs including renewables premiums, is at the heart of Spain's energy sector woes…”

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