Czech Energy Regulator to Press Charges in Solar-Subsidy Probe

The Czech energy regulator will bring charges against two solar producers it says benefited illegally from subsidies as it carries out a widening probe into the country’s renewable-energy compensation program.

The regulator found “shortcomings” with 30 of the largest producers and plans to investigate as many as 180 providers, Alena Vitaskova, chairwoman of the regulator, told reporters today in Prague. She didn’t name the companies.

“We’ve found problems with all of the applications,” Vitaskova said. “The cost of supporting renewable energy is becoming unsustainable for Czech consumers.”

The Czech government is trying to rein in costs to consumers of renewable energy after solar companies rushed to obtain licenses before the end of 2010, when tariffs were reduced. A law freezing subsidies at 583 koruna a megawatt-hour from next year is awaiting approval by parliament.

Providers with combined capacity of 190 megawatts who have received as much as 2.5 billion koruna ($124 million) in subsidies are being investigated, Vitaskova said.

Milos Cihelka, a spokesman for the Czech Photovoltaic Industry Association, said by phone that while his organization welcomes the investigation, it’s hard to comment without more details of the allegations.

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