The employer of renewables assures that the public management of the hydroelectric plant "may" be illegal

The Association of Renewable Energy Companies (APPA) has charged against the idea that the State or any public body manage hydroelectric power when the concessions expire because, it says, this option "may" be illegal.

"Do not forget that the public management of hydroelectric exploitation may be contrary to the requirements of Community Law and Competition Law, among other reasons, by restricting free competition in electricity generation," says APPA.

The public management of these assets, which use a public good (the water of the rivers) and a concession to produce electricity, supposes according to APPA "violate the common use" of the public domain. In addition, he affirms, it reduces the income destined to the environmental support of the hydrographic basins and the adjoining populations, "by not paying taxes on the project, nor accruing fees, or by taking responsibility for the use of the supervisor who precisely must ensure compliance with the regulations, without anyone supervising it.

These statements are in the observations that this lobby has presented to the Duero Hydrographic Confederation, the most important in Spain in terms of hydroelectric production, in the process of drawing up the hydrological plans whose allegations have been recently published.

In these allegations, the electricity companies (also APPA itself) have charged against the Government's plan to increase the ecological flows of the rivers – which is considered the minimum water necessary for ecosystems to exist in the river courses – due to its impact on hydroelectric production, and have warned that they will ask for compensation thus.

In its allegations, the employers of renewable energies warn that, once the exploitation concessions have expired and expired, "if the Administration opted for direct management, in the strict sense or through its own means, it must justify its decision taking into account, especially , to the pro-competitive or anti-competitive consequences thereof. Said specific motivation, if omitted, may give rise to challenging the decision, due to arbitrariness".

APPA, which does not comment on this matter, was created in 1987 and is "the benchmark association for the renewable energy sector in Spain," according to its website.

The employers' association thus pronounces on an idea that has been in the public debate for some time and that has been raised in the drafts of the new plans for Cuenca, which aim to give More weight to the State in the management of the hydroelectric plant.

Specifically, the Duero raised as "reasonable that the new renewable plants linked to the dams be reserved for the State", while the Ebro insisted on continuing with the process of "reversal" of concessions for direct exploitation that has begun in recent years and was committed to the "development of new reversible jumps". Last summer, one of the pioneers in the recovery of the dams, the former president of the Ebro Confederation Xavier de Pedro, charged against the lack of interest of successive governments for this question.

In August, when the electricity price crisis began to worsen, the vice president and minister for the Ecological Transition, Teresa Ribera, came to propose that a public company manage the concessions that they expire, as United We Can has been proposing for years. However, the Government has recently warned (as stated in a recent parliamentary response) that this "is not the most appropriate way to reduce the energy bill immediately".

In this case, the chosen mechanism has been the cap on gas agreed with Portugal and approved by the Council of Ministers last Fridaywith some counterparts, such as the reform of the regulated rate (known as PVPC) by request of the European Commissionwhich has yet to give its approval to the so-called Iberian solution.

The state already directly manages a pool of more than 250 MW hydroelectric, light years away from the almost 10,000 MW managed by Iberdrola, the outstanding leader in hydroelectric power in Spain with half of the total power. The multinational is not part of APPA, according to the association's website and the latest sustainability report of the largest Spanish electricity company. Acciona or Endesa do belong to the employer's association, according to their website.

in this decade 255 hydroelectric concessions that have a capacity of about 1,000 MW are going to expire. In the short term, the two most important are two dams that Iberdrola exploits in the Duero with 206 MW and whose extinction procedure has just started the Ministry for Ecological Transition.

APPA states in its allegations that "the expiration of the concession determines the reversion of all the works and infrastructures built by the concessionaire in the public domain (channel and banks), without prejudice to what the concession title may establish with respect to of those built outside of it".

If it is decided that the use will continue to be exploited and the facility does not have to be demolished, the return must take place "in operating conditions". And, "since there is no provision in the title regarding the state in which it should take place, it can empower the concessionaire to claim the corresponding compensation," he says.

"For this reason, we believe that the Confederations themselves should promote the establishment of common criteria for the expiration of concessions and their possible reversals, and the renewal of the concession should be carried out in concurrence procedures attended by interested companies, not being adjusted to the European guidelines the use by public administrations", he assures.

APPA also claims to "unify the criteria of the concession terms among all the Basins" since "we observe different appreciations regarding the terms between some confederations and others." According to the employers' association, "a reduction in the concession terms for hydroelectric uses can be accepted", which in the oldest concessions is 75 years, but "in no case should it be less than 30 years, both for new concessions and for those that undergo substantial adaptations/modifications".

"Contemplating shorter terms such as those provided for in the Hydrological Plan proposal will not facilitate the development of hydroelectric power in Spain or the maintenance of existing facilities," he assures. Recently, the Duero Confederation canceled a tender to exploit a small exploitation which set the concession at 30 yearsabove the term of previous procedures of this type.

According to APPA, "it is necessary that we exploit the renewable resources available, among which are the more than 1,000 mini-hydraulic installations that are currently operating, both for their contribution to covering the national demand, with emission-free generation, as well as as well as for the positive impacts they have on the environment, the electrical system and our economy in general terms".

APPA recalls that the National Integrated Energy and Climate Plan (PNIEC), which is the roadmap for this decade, determines "textually", within the general objective of not losing the energy contribution of the mini-hydraulic installations, that "work will be done on the regulation of the end of the concession of hydroelectric plants to guarantee the investments that allow them to continue operating".

"In the coming years some of these concessions will expire, for this reason we consider it necessary to review the possibility of continuing with these exploitations. And in this case, when the current concession cannot be extended, that the expiration procedures be properly processed, that is, that these procedures be processed correctly so that these resources can be used again".

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