CEZ mulls sale of minority stake in Romanian wind park

BUCHAREST, April 1 Tue Apr 1, 2014 6:48am EDT

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BUCHAREST, April 1 (Reuters) - Czech utility CEZ is exploring the sale of a minority stake in its 1.1 billion euro ($1.5 billion) wind park in southeastern Romania, Europe's largest land-based wind farm, a company official said on Tuesday.

The company did not say why it was looking into such a move, although some foreign investors have expressed concern over recent cuts in incentives for renewable power in Romania.

CEZ, central Europe's largest utility, is the leading private investor in Romania's wind energy sector and also operates a local power distributor.

"This possibility is currently under analysis at headquarter level," Adrian Borotea, corporate affairs director at CEZ's Romanian unit said.

"It is premature to say when a decision will be made. At the moment, they are analysing the possibility, investigating whether there will be interest."

Foreign-owned firms have ploughed billions of euros into wind, solar and biomass power projects in Romania, lured by the Balkan nation's support scheme.

The incentives, once deemed too generous by the European Commission, drew scores of foreign investors, including Italy's Enel and Energias de Portugal.

The support scheme gives developers green certificates for each megawatt generated and forces power suppliers and large industrial users to buy them based on a gradually increasing annual quota set by the country's energy regulator.

Green energy investors gain once by selling certificates and again when they sell their electricity. But last year the government decided to hold off paying some of the certificates for several years to avoid over-compensating investors.

Last month, it capped the amount of renewable energy that large industrial clients must buy this year to stave off the threat of job cuts ahead of elections.

CEZ and other foreign energy firms operating in Romania have also raised concern about sudden shifts in government policies and a lack of a comprehensive strategy for the sector that make it difficult to plan long-term energy projects.

($1 = 0.7256 Euros) (Reporting by Luiza Ilie; Editing by Michael Kahn and Mark Potter)

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