Spain's competition watchdog blasts government plans to tax solar

Just days after Spain’s National Energy Commission (CNE) criticized plans to limit small-scale photovoltaic generation in the country, a second powerful Spanish institution has openly sided with the photovoltaic sector in denouncing the proposed hurdles, which the industry sees as unnecessary, disproportionate and discriminatory against new small-scale PV projects for self-consumption.

On September 16, Spain’s National Competition Commission (CNC) published a new report on the country’s new draft electricity law in which it criticizes the government’s plan to penalize photovoltaic generation.

"By penalizing self-consumption, a specific technology is actually being penalized, which is electricity generation with photovoltaic solar panels," the CNC warned in its findings.

The competition body added that while "this technology presents lower production costs than others, the efficiency of the system is being harmed and clients are being prevented, especially clients of a larger size that utilize electrical energy as an input, from reducing their costs. Consequently this reduces the competitiveness of the Spanish economy."

The CNC warned authorities in its findings that consumers who produce part of their own energy are already paying a backup toll to the system through their existing connection to the public grid. "It is not reasonable to burden them with additional charges that are not required from other consumers," the commission declared.

Previously, the CNE also warned of negative consequences stemming from new government-proposed legislation for consumers who generate their own renewable energy and it expressed concern over the haste and lack of transparency in the process.

Spain’s Council of Ministers in July approved the proposed reform of the national power sector in form of the controversial new draft law that will replace in its totality the country’s existing law regulating the power sector.