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Spain Suspends Subsidies to 279 Solar-Power Installations

Spanish regulators suspended subsidies to 279 solar-power installations, bringing to 1,561 the number of rooftop and open-field installations punished for not proving they followed rules for earning above-market prices.

The National Energy Commission announced the latest series of sanctions after completing checks on 86 percent of the 8,201 power stations suspected of not meeting regulatory requirements, the regulator said today in statement.

The owners of photovoltaic parks and rooftop systems failed to prove they were capable of producing power by the Sept. 30, 2008, deadline to be eligible for earning the highest consumer-subsidized rate. That tariff is 47.5 euro cents ($0.678) a kilowatt-hour, or about nine times today’s spot price paid to operators of fossil fuel power plants.

Spain’s government is trying to reduce aid for many of the nation’s renewable-energy plants as a way to lower electricity costs for businesses and homes and help the economy emerge from its worst slump in 60 years.

Armed with a law passed in 2010, the energy regulator this year requested more proof from 9,041 operators of solar plants and rooftop gear that they had completed all construction and permitting by the September 2008 deadline. Spanish news reports had suggested hundreds of entrepreneurs were illegally earning the top subsidized rate, which was lowered after 2008.

Some 840 operators agreed not to challenge the regulator and accept a lower subsidized price of 32.6 cents a kilowatt-hour for the power they produced, in a form of amnesty agreement that avoided them losing their entire subsidy payment.

The 1,561 installations to be penalized generate about 5.5 percent of the country’s photovoltaic power.

The suspensions handed out so far are “precautionary” until final judgments are made, the commission said.

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