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Spanish Wind Farms Registered as Solar, Won Subsidies

Some wind-energy plants in Spain were registered as solar-power generators and claimed the higher subsidy given to installations that harness sunlight, a regulatory investigation has found.

The National Energy Commission’s probe, originally to look for irregularities in solar power production, discovered that some owners of wind turbines in Spain had sold power as if they were operating solar photovoltaic panels, said a spokesman for the nation’s regulator who declined to be identified.

The Madrid-based regulator didn’t disclose details about how many plants were involved or who owned them. It began its investigation to examine claims that some solar plants were paid for generating electricity at night.

The probe found no evidence of nighttime solar-power production, Maite Costa, the commission’s chairwoman, said yesterday at a conference in comments confirmed by the spokesman. Some solar plants had faulty clocks that confused midnight and noon, leading to the error, Costa said….

Solar plants can earn as much as 44 cents per kilowatt hour in Spain, more than six times the rate that wind farms receive. The Spanish government is preparing to cut the subsidized prices that consumers pay for renewable energy as a means of reining in costs for manufacturers and boosting economic growth.

Under the Spanish system, consumers delay payments for part of their electric bills for years and the government guarantees the shortfall to power suppliers such as Endesa SA and Gas Natural SDG SA. The total liability from those unpaid bills rose last year by about 4 billion euros ($4.9 billion) to 16 billion euros.

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