Monday, 21 April 2014

Solar investors file complaint against Czech power regulator

22 February 2013

Prague, Feb 21 (CTK) - Two associations of solar investors have filed an administrative and a criminal complaint against Czech power regulator for distorting data it supplied to the Constitutional Court in the case of solar tax, Czech Photovoltaic Industry Association head Zuzana Musilova said.

The Energy Regulatory Office (ERU), headed by Alena Vitaskova, allegedly supplied distorted data to the Constitutional Court when the court was to decide last year on the 26 percent tax on electricity produced by solar power plants, the Czech Photovoltaic Industry Association and Alliance for Energy Self-Sufficiency said at a press conference Thursday.

The ERU earlier rejected the allegations that it had manipulated the data on the basis of which the Constitutional Court made its decision.

A complaint against the 26 percent solar tax was filed with the Constitutional Court by operators of photovoltaic power plants, but the court rejected their objections and left the tax in effect.

Musilova said earlier the ERU provided the court with two different calculations that were "provably manipulated and wrong".

"The ERU lied to the Constitutional Court and the Prime Minister because it distorted both the calculations of the return on investment in photovoltaic plants. That is the reason why we are forced to file a criminal complaint against the ERU, its chairwoman and employees who took part in making these documents. Investors of solar project defend themselves with an administrative complaint," Musilova said Thursday at the press conference held by the solar associations.

The complaint was filed on Wednesday at the High State Attorney's Office in Olomouc.

Expert's assessment clearly proved that the ERU manipulated input parameters in its calculations, according to Musilova. The regulator's documents for the prime minister, who also made his statement for the Constitutional Court in the matter of solar tax, allegedly contains a number of amateurish and flagrant errors.

It does not take into account income taxation and reckons with incorrect prices, for example. The document sent to the court directly from the ERU differs fundamentally from the data processed for the prime minister, and reckons neither with parameters set by the regulation nor with real parameters.

The first four owners of photovoltaic power plants sue the ERU over damage to their property caused by the submitting of wrong documents to the Constitutional Court, Musilova said. The complaint contains an appeal that the court proposes cancellation of the solar payment.

Prime Minister Petr Necas does not speak the truth when he says that he did all he could to stop the solar boom, according to representatives of the photovoltaic sector.

It was Necas who in 2010 adopted the National Action Plan in which he mentioned the state's goal to obtain 1.65 GW of electricity production from solar plants by end-2010.

"By doing this, he signed for all the Czech Republic's citizens a blank cheque for state support of Kc520bn in the following 20 years. State-run electricity company CEZ already bought most of almost 130 megawatts of its photovoltaic power plants during the rule of Necas's government," Musilova added.

ERU head Vitaskova caused a stir in early February by making public results of an audit on the setting of purchasing prices of electricity from solar power plants.

According to the audit, ERU employees set the prices wrongly in 2005 to 2011, which probably caused damage in the order of tens of billions of crowns. The ERU asked the state attorney's office to check whether allegations of abuse of powers of a person in authority could be brought in the matter.

The ERU's audit was presented Thursday by independent think tank Information Institute at a press conference. Representatives of the institute said that, according to the audit, concrete culprits of the wrong setting of purchasing prices of electricity from solar plants cannot be traced.

However, they ascribe the responsibility for setting the prices to the ERU's former management headed by Josef Firt.

The audit also says that the ERU responded with a delay to the situation in the photovoltaic segment when the costs of the construction of solar plants dropped sharply.

"Although the exact potential of growth in photovoltaics could not be estimated with certainty, we think that the Energy Regulatory Office made a mistake by reacting late to the situation that arose," the audit says.

The ERU did not put sufficient emphasis on the risks and the development of solar plants because the volume of electricity produced by them is not so big, according to the document.

The ERU has not made public the audit officially yet. But Vitaskova said the regulator will do so by end-February.

Copyright 2014 by the Czech News Agency (ČTK). All rights reserved.
Copying, dissemination or other publication of this article or parts thereof without the prior written consent of ČTK is expressly forbidden. The Prague Daily Monitor and Monitor CE are not responsible for its content.