* Energy regulator wants less support for solar, wind, hydro
* Pending changes catch renewable investors off guard
By Luiza Ilie
BUCHAREST, March 29 Romania's government will
cut its support scheme for wind, solar and small hydro renewable
energy projects to avoid overcompensating investors, energy
regulator ANRE said on Friday.
Elsewhere in the European Union, countries such as Germany,
Britain and Spain have either cut or plan to reduce incentives
for renewable energy after years of strong government support.
Romania's support scheme gives renewable power producers
green certificates for each megawatt generated. Suppliers must
get an increasing percentage of the power they sell from
renewable energy and buy certificates to meet these targets.
Investors in renewables make gains when they sell the
certificates and again when they sell their power output.
But the support scheme also allows ANRE to ask the
government to cut certificates if investors' rates of return
become too high.
ANRE proposes to cut the number of certificates to 1.5 from
two per megawatt for wind energy, to three from six for solar
projects and to 2.3 from three for small hydro power plants, it
said in a statement. The changes will apply to new projects.
Romania's subsidies, which analysts and the European
Commision have said are too generous, have attracted billions of
euros in investment, particularly to wind power.
The scheme, which has been in place for only one year, has
also driven the inflation rate higher. Green certificates
accounted for nearly half of a 10 percent hike in households'
power bills in January.
Energy Minister Constantin Nita was quoted as saying earlier
this month the government also planned to cut the upper range of
the price that renewables producers get for certificates,
catching many investors off guard.
(Editing by Jane Baird)