Following three years of processing, Spain's centre-south region of Castile-La Mancha has finally defined grid connection priorities for 2286 MW of proposed wind plant in collaboration with the regional government and national grid operator Red Electrica de España (REE). At the same time the 22 developers on the priority list have formed a joint venture to finance and manage grid lines and infrastructure. After the long wait, developers are reluctant to hazard any guesses as to when building will start. According to the regional government's end-2002 figures, there were advanced projects with positive Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) reports for over 230 MW from a variety of developers. Projects still awaiting EIA declarations totalled 830 MW while 1269 MW were queuing up for EIA processing to begin. "The grid has long since been considered the main hold up. But now processing is in the hands of the environment department," says one developer, who declines to be named for fear of jeopardising his project. Heading the list of favoured companies for grid connection is Energías Eólicas Europeas (EEE), an affiliate of utility and regional distributor Iberdrola, with concessions to add 663 MW to the around 750 MW it has in the region. It is by far the biggest concession. The second largest, at 191 MW, goes to German developer Windsolar, one of the few foreign developers to get a strong foothold in Castile-La Mancha. Utilities Endesa and Hidrocantábrico, together with Alabe, the wind developing arm of Spain's Acciona group, are the other main contenders.
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