* Govt revokes permit to build wind park
* Permit had been given to unit of U.S. company
* Grid operator had appealed decision to give permit
By Maja Zuvela
SARAJEVO, June 24 Authorities in Serbia have
revoked a permit for the local subsidiary of a U.S. renewable
energy company to build a 300-million-euro ($408 million) wind
park, under challenge by the electricity grid operator.
Continental Wind Serbia, a subsidiary of Continental Wind
Partners, planned to start construction this year on the 145
megawatt (MW) wind park, but Serbia's construction ministry said
late on Monday it had revoked the construction permit.
The company planned to add another smaller farm costing 150
million euros at a later stage. The two combined would be
capable of meeting around 7 percent of Serbia's annual energy
demand and help diversify the country away from coal, the
Serbian grid operator Elektromreze Srbije (EMS) had appealed
against the project, in a dispute over who would own the power
transformer station that would connect the park to the grid. The
construction ministry overruled a regional authority's decision
to grant the permit, saying the decision violated EMS's rights
"We are stunned by such a decision and we are trying to find
some solution, especially for the fact that it may affect the
entire wind industry in Serbia because all permits were issued
in the same manner," Ana Brnabic, general manager of Continental
Wind Serbia, told Reuters on Tuesday.
While EMS had challenged Continental Wind Serbia's right to
build the wind park, it also said on Tuesday that current
legislation, requiring energy project developers to hand over
ownership of all high-voltage facilities to EMS as the sole
operator of the grid, posed problems.
"This means that under current law many developers will find
it difficult to secure loans for their projects because
facilities, such as power transformer stations, cannot be
registered as the investor's ownership," an EMS official, who
spoke on condition of anonymity, told Reuters.
"The only way out of this limbo is a change in the
The construction ministry said it recognised the problem in
the existing law and that an upcoming new law on planning and
energy would try to streamline the procedure. However, energy
developers fear it may delay their plans as they will be
required to seek new permits.
Brnabic, who also heads Serbia's Wind Energy Association,
said that red tape and an opaque regulatory framework could
scare off investors and hamper Serbia's objective to secure 27
percent of total energy consumption from renewables by 2020.
($1 = 0.7357 euros)
(Editing by Matt Robinson and Susan Fenton)