RMK to put Tootsi wind farm property up for auction for €12.3 million ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Tootsi property.
Tootsi property. Source: ERR

The State Forest Management Centre (RMK) is organizing a public, in-person auction for the sale of the Tootsi wind farm property in Pärnu County on February 18, 2020. The starting bid has been set at €12.3 million.

The auction will take place at the RMK building in Tallinn, located at Toompuiestee 24, beginning at 2:00 p.m.; registration of bidders will begin on site one hour prior, according to an ad on RMK's homepage. The size of the deposit is set at €1.23 million, with a participation fee of €3,000 and a minimum bid increment of €50,000. The starting and final bid are inclusive of VAT.

The auction will end after the highest bid is announced three times by the auctioneer, after which the highest bidder must sign a contract obliging them to purchase the property at the price of the highest bid under the conditions of the auction once the results of the auction are confirmed. Should the highest bidder refuse to sign, the participant in the auction to place the highest bid forfeits their right to sign the contract and will not have their deposit returned. Should the highest bidder refuse to sign the contract, the next-highest bidder has the right to purchase the property.

The property up for auction, which is located in a depleted peat bog, consists of 40 cadastral units. Three structures registered in the construction register are located on the property, in addition to two 26-meter-wide and 1-meter-deep foundation beds, the excavated soil from which has been stored nearby.

The government decided at its November 28 Cabinet meeting to sell the Tootsi wind farm property at auction, and provided guidelines regarding the sale to the Ministry of the Environment.

Dispute dating back to 2016

In December 2016, the government decided to give the Tootsi property to AS Eesti Energia as a non-monetary downpayment. Businesses who had likewise been interested in purchasing the property took the government's decision to court and to the European Commission. In April 2017, the government repealed the previous decision and ordered the Ministry of the Environment to sell the Tootsi wind farm property via public auction.

In 2017, the decision to put the Tootsi property up for auction was appealed by the Sõnajalg brothers-owned Eleon AS, the Harry Raudvere-owned Raisner AS and Tootsi Tuulepark OÜ, a subsidiary of Nelja Energia, a company whose majority stake was owned by a Norwegian energy company. The Estonian state-owned Eesti Energia has since acquired Nelja Energia.

The courts found in their rulings that the RMK had the right to organize an auction according to the conditions set out by the relevant decisions. The cases have thus concluded, giving the Ministry of the Environment the opportunity to move forward with operations connected with the property.

The 160-hectare Tootsi wind farm property is located in the village of Metsaküla in Vändra Municipality. The property consists of 40 cadastral units, 38 of which are anticipated for use for the installation of wind turbines and two for wind measurement towers, according the property's detailed plan. The current owner of the property is the RMK.

According to thematic plan, only a wind farm may be constructed on the property.
The starting bid for the property was set according to an appraisal at €12.3 million in 2017 already; the price was confirmed again in 2019.

Sõnajalg: Eleon is interested

Speaking on Vikerraadio news broadcast Uudis+, Estonian Wind Technology Association board chairman and Eleon board member Andres Sõnajalg said that Eleon would likely participate in the Tootsi auction as the company already has a building permit for the construction of its wind turbines on the property.

Nonetheless, he warned that the buyer of the property cannot be compelled to build wind turbines on it.

"We know that there are neighbors too here that might be interested in energetics according to other aspects," Sõnajalg said. "So it cannot be ruled out that this wind farm remains unbuilt there. It has happened before that a company has been bought and then shut down; this hasn't been ruled out at all."

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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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