REFIT stalled by EU over Coillte demands
Published 01/03/2011 | 05:00
AN energy scheme which could create thousands of jobs has been stalled by EU officials because of a stand-off over money, the Irish Independent has learned.
The REFIT scheme -- backed by the Government and the EU -- is intended to create jobs and meet targets for the use of renewable fuel in the generation of energy at a series of small power plants here.
Farmers and companies running the plants are guaranteed a minimum price for green electricity they produce and are paid for the amount of energy generated per hour. But now it has emerged forestry agency Coillte is demanding those prices be increased.
The semi-state company will benefit from higher prices because it would be the biggest supplier of fuel to run plants, as it controls 50pc of Irish forestry.
But Brussels officials, who have to clear the proposals under state aid rules, are unhappy with the company's demands and have put the scheme on ice until the Department of Energy redrafts the plans.
It is understood Coillte wants up to 16c per kilowatt hour of energy generated -- significantly higher than the 12c proposed for biomass energy.
A spokesperson for the company confirmed yesterday that it had made submissions as part of a consultation process.
It is understood that the consultation outlines how higher prices were necessary to make the scheme sustainable in the long term.