Samost and Aaspõllu: Going over renewable energy support sensible

Anvar Samost and Huko Aaspõllu
Anvar Samost and Huko Aaspõllu Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Journalists Anvar Samost and Huko Aaspõllu found on their Sunday Vikerraadio talk show that the Competition Authority's proposal for overhauling Estonia's renewable energy fee is sensible.

The price of electricity has been high enough to render the support instrument unnecessary.

"It is only logical that the Competition Authority suggested the scheme that has been in place since 2007 should be dropped as it is in no way financially justified. A fine point of view and worth discussing," Samost concluded.

The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications has said that the state must not break its promise to entrepreneurs and support pledged but not paid out needs to remain available in the future.

Samost suggested that while the ministry's position is clear from a legal standpoint, it should be kept in mind how the support scheme was created. "MPs voted to support a scheme that seemingly randomly introduced beautiful benefits for decades to come. For example, for tycoon Urmas Sõõrumaa who constructed and invested heavily in the Väo combined heating and power plant in Tallinn at around the same time," Samost said.

"It is something most parties are reluctant to discuss, and it is clear the Competition Authority just made another bunch of enemies with the proposal. But I believe the agency is on the right track."

Samost said that the support virtually comes from the taxpayer's pocket as it will be compensated based on high energy prices.

Aaspõllu pointed out that Estonia has very generous renewable energy support. "Should we change rules that have been ordered and based on which businesses have made investment decisions? Definitely not. I also do not believe such a course of action could be defended in court," he said.

He also suggested the situation cannot be compared to the case of [the capital's water utility] Tallinna Vesi. "In a situation where an investment decision has been made based on valid legislation, to try and ask for its return – I think it would not fly in court and would be an unpromising course of action."

Samost suggested that the matter ending up in court would shed light on what led to the 2007 decision in the Riigikogu.

Aaspõllu highlighted as problematic the aspect of outstanding projects qualifying for the support instrument for a long time to come.

"Renewable energy producers, capacities for which a binding investment decision had not been made by 2016 can, based on the old and exceedingly generous scheme, qualify for the support in other production capacities in the future. It is a problem – one recent example is the Tallinn combined heat and power plant, while we do not quite know how many others could be in the pipeline," Aaspõllu said, giving the examples of the long-disputed Tootsi and the Sõnajalg brothers' Aidu wind farms.

"We could draw the line here. That while we will not be shutting down existing things, if your binding obligation has not manifested inside a sensible period – even between five and eight years – it should no longer qualify for the old support scheme and should be put to bed," Aaspõllu suggested.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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