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Spain Suspends Subsidies to Operators of 360 Solar-Power Systems

June 30 (Bloomberg) -- Spanish regulators suspended subsidies to operators of 360 solar-energy systems, bringing to 1,919 the number of rooftop and open-field projects punished for not proving they qualified for above-market prices.

The National Energy Commission’s latest sanctions conclude the investigation of 8,185 power projects suspected of not meeting requirements, the regulator said yesterday in statement.

The owners failed to prove their photovoltaic parks and rooftop systems were capable of producing power by the Sept. 30, 2008, deadline to deserve earning the highest consumer-subsidized rate. That tariff is 47.5 euro cents (69 U.S. cents) a kilowatt-hour, or more than nine times the current spot price paid to round-the-clock 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 855 operators agreed not to challenge the regulator and accept a lower subsidized price of 32.6 euro cents a kilowatt-hour for the power they produced, in a form of an amnesty agreement, avoiding losing their entire subsidy payment.

The 1,919 installations penalized generate about 6.4 percent of the country’s photovoltaic power. Spain has 54,257 solar-energy stations.

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

To contact the reporter on this story: Todd White in Madrid at twhite2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Reed Landberg at landberg@bloomberg.net

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