Wind Farms Now Come With the Threat of Jail

  • Date: 03/03/16
  • Jessica Shankleman, Bloomberg

One of Europe’s most promising markets for renewable energy is being threatened by legislation that would impose new fees and potential jail terms for operators of wind farms, an industry lobby group said.

Poland’s governing Law and Justice Party is proposing laws that would require new turbines to be situated away from homes, schools and natural reserves at a distance of more than 10-times their height. That would be about 1.5 kilometers (0.9 miles), according to data compiled by Bloomberg New Energy Finance. The law also would subject existing wind farms to audits every two years.
The law would raise annual wind farm costs by as much as 150 million zloty ($37.6 million) even if no more turbines were built, according to the draft legislation. While the government is attempting to clamp down on rising electricity bills and empower communities concerned about the installations, the wind industry says the rules would choke off development and eliminate a clean source of electricity.

Poland’s plans “will tie projects up in red tape and make life difficult for developers by imposing arbitrary rules that serve no other purpose than to prevent wind turbine deployment,” said Oliver Joy, a spokesman for the European Wind Energy Association.
“This draft law is a clear statement of intent and should not be allowed to stand.”

The government says it’s worried a surge in new installations is creating a conflict between communities and investors. It’s also seeking to curb subsidies for renewables and support its ailing coal industry, which has been undercut by falling commodity prices. While the country was among more than 195 nations that backed the Paris deal on climate change in December, it has sought a special status for coal and forecasts the fossil fuel will form a key component of its energy security for decades.

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