French court annuls wind power decree ending legal saga

Reuters News
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Posted: May 28, 2014 10:36 AM

PARIS (Reuters) - France's highest administrative court on Wednesday annulled the decree setting wind power feed-in tariffs, marking the end of a complex legal procedure that has stifled investment in the French onshore wind sector.

The French government has already prepared a new decree, which was cleared by the European Commission in March and will replace the one that has now been annulled.

Pressure group Vent de Colere had seized on the previous government's failure to notify the EU that the original decree subsidizing onshore wind power production was state aid.

Europe's highest court, which the French court asked for advice, judged last December that the feed-in tariffs were indeed state aid and should have been flagged to the EU as such.

Legal uncertainty over the tariffs, which force utility EDF to buy wind-generated power at above-market costs, has paralyzed investment in the French wind sector since 2011.

French renewable energy lobby SER welcomed the decision, saying the wind sector was now expecting the government to promulgate the new decree.

"After six years of procedure, this new economic framework, which is highly anticipated by all players in the wind sector, will finally give them a secure legal footing necessary to carry on their projects," Jean-Louis Bal, the head of the SER, said.

(Reporting by Michel Rose; Editing by Erica Billingham)