Czech police collect documents in solar plant probe-prosecutor
PRAGUE Dec 10 (Reuters) - Czech authorities collected documents on Tuesday from solar power plant operators, including majority-state owned CEZ, as part of a probe into potential criminal activity at the facilities, CEZ and a prosecutor said.
High State Prosecutor Lenka Bradacova did not say which companies were involved but a CEZ spokeswoman confirmed the company had handed over documents to authorities investigating solar power plants.
"I can only confirm we are overseeing a criminal investigation involving photovoltaic plants, in which the police took some steps today," Bradacova told Reuters.
The CEZ spokeswoman said central Europe's biggest utility was cooperating fully with authorities.
"The police visited us this morning and asked for our cooperation and files," CEZ spokeswoman Barbora Pulpanova said. "We provided those and are prepared to give further cooperation in the investigation."
"According to the information given to us, the police are investigating suspicion of criminal activity at photovoltaic power plants that could have caused damage to CEZ."
In November, the Energy Regulatory Authority said it had handed to police findings from its own investigation that unearthed what it called "widespread irregularities" at solar facilities, including some owned by CEZ.
The probe centres mainly on the end of 2010 when solar farm operators rushed to finish plants to get generous government subsidies before the system was changed at the start of 2011.
The subsidies helped the Czech Republic become one of Europe's biggest solar nations but have also ratcheted up electricity prices for consumers and businesses, putting pressure on lawmakers to reform the system. (Reporting by Jason Hovet and Robert Muller; Writing by Michael Kahn; Editing by Mark Potter)
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