Solar energy contracts drawn up two days before 2015 elections “deemed illegal”

It is another breakthrough for the government’s allies Bloco de Esquerda and looks like saving Joe Public around €350 million.

Tabloid Correio da Manhã reports today on the dispatch issued by the Public Ministry that rules that an extraordinary decision to “transform” a number projects for ‘mini-dams’ into projects for highly-subsidised solar power plants just two days before the last elections was both illegal and unconstitutional.

The decision was waived through by former secretary of state for energy Artur Trindade, says CM.

The extent of subsidies that his decision implied “would have cost consumers around €350 million”, explained a source.

It would also have seen areas of outstanding natural beauty given over to acres of solar panels.

At issue are projects presented by various companies which originally opted to construct mini-dams for the purpose of generating hydroelectric energy in central and northern districts.

“The executive of Passos Coelho then allowed these companies to change not only the source of energy, but also the borough.

All but one “opted for solar photovoltaic, to install in the south of the country”, on a much improved tariff system.

Says CM, the Attorney General’s view of these 11th hour dealings was scathing.

The government effectively “authorised substantial alterations” and changed “the essence of administrative contract celebrated through public tender” with “mere addenda, negotiated between the contracting entity and the contractee”.

For the Public Ministry these changes – in the final throes of a government that lost its power to the current left-wing alliance – were “a violation of the principles of competition, equality of treatment and transparency” and they have resulted in Trindade’s decisions now being formally annulled, says CM.

The Resident is seeking confirmation but this looks like it could be curtains for the controversial high-concentration photovoltaic plant planned on land outside Bensafrim, in the western Algarve north of Lagos.

BE MP João Vasconcelos took up this issue with colleague Jorge Costa, claiming the project would end up costing consumers over €100 million in subsidies over 20 years (click here).

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