Italy plans to raise 1.5 bln euros from green energy clawback

Wind turbines are seen along the A2 motorway
Wind turbines are seen along the A2 motorway near Salerno, Italy, January 14, 2021. REUTERS/Yara Nardi

MILAN, Feb 4 (Reuters) - Italy expects to raise around 1.5 billion euros ($1.7 billion)from a scheme to claw back profits from solar and clean power producers to curb soaring energy prices, a document showed.

The measure, part of a broader government decree which came into force last month, needs to be approved by parliament within 60 days or it will expire.

Rome has set aside some 10 billion euros since last July to cushion a surge in retail energy bills that has left many households and businesses gasping for air.

The government said the clawback would impact solar power plants which are benefiting from generous fixed-tariff subsidies on top of high market prices due to the gas crisis.

These subsidies cost consumers some 6 billion euros per year in their energy bills, it said.

But the move has angered many producers, with lobby group Italia Solare calling for Rome to withdraw the measure, claiming it poses a serious threat to the energy transition in Italy and Europe.

Italy is looking to install at least 8 gigawatts of new renewable capacity every year to 2030 to meet climate targets and developers worry the mechanism could slow down progress.

A scheme introduced by Rome in 2008 to recover profits from a surge in oil prices was ruled as unconstitutional in 2015.

The clawback scheme applies to solar energy producers, with a capacity exceeding 20 Kilowatts, receiving incentives under a prior subsidy scheme.

"Strong spot price volatility has clearly made this type of incentive unstable, generating extra margins for producers," the decree said.

It will also be levied on unsubsidised renewable energy plants, like hydroelectric plants, that are making profits from high market prices but that do not have to shoulder the costs of surging gas prices and carbon allowances.

In a recent report, Italian broker Equita said regional utilities A2A and Iren (IREE.MI) were among the companies most impacted with about 3% of core earnings affected.

The broker said there was practically no impact for Enel , one of the world's biggest green energy companies, and wind player ERG (ERG.MI) since they had sold forward production.

($1 = 0.8754 euros)

Reporting by Giuseppe Fonte and Stephen Jewkes;Editing by Elaine Hardcastle

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