Solar investors in Greece have won a significant victory in their ongoing legal disputes with the government over the austerity-inspired cuts and taxes applied to the renewable energy sector.
Athens-based legal firm Metaxas and Associates, which is waging a number of legal battles on behalf of PV developers, recorded a victory in its fight to force the government to return the unpaid portion of an investment subsidy originally offered to drive PV projects in the country.
The government agreed to reimburse PV investors the unpaid amount of the investment grant after retroactively reducing the subsidy as part of its efforts to reduce a growing deficit of the Renewable Energy Sources Fund (RES), which the Greek Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change (YPEKA) has predicted will balloon to 905 million (US$1.2 billion) by the end of next year.
Metaxas is also attempting to repeal the PV plant aspects of the deeply unpopular Memorandum III legislation which was rushed through an embattled parliament in November and imposed swingeing cuts to public sector pay and pensions and the health service in return for a tranche of EU bailout funds from the ‘troika’ of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), European Central Bank (ECB) and European Commission.
The law firm yesterday participated in the oral hearing of a pilot trial held by the Hellenic Council of State to determine whether, as Metaxas and PV investors claim, a retroactive ‘solidarity tax’ of between 25% and 42% imposed retroactively on the revenue of PV plants violates articles of the Greek constitution.
The decision of the Hellenic Council will guide the Administrative Courts which will determine appeals against the tax.
Metaxas and Associates also has two complaints lodged with the EU related to the solidarity tax on the basis the levy, by its selective nature, breaches EU state aid laws and breaks the spirit of EU communications forbidding retroactive modification of the framework under which renewables generators provide energy.