New utility levy threat

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A threatened utility levy on wind turbines, to start from April 1, could knock the bottom out of the private wind market and force existing turbine owners into bankruptcy, warns Flemming Tranæs, chairman of Denmark's wind turbine owners association, DV. The Danish electricity association, DEF, is advising its utility members to levy an extra annual standing charge on each wind turbine for its link to the grid. Denmark's energy agency and watchdog consumer group are aware of the new levy, claims DEF, which stresses the "importance of this regulation being followed by all members." DEF says the new levy is partially to compensate utilities for the extra administration costs of the new regulations for wind turbine ownership (see below). DV's Strange Skriver says the levy will cost turbine owners between $60 and $2000 a year. "Parliament, consumers and supporters of wind energy must not allow utilities to print their own bank notes, which is what we are actually talking about here," says Tranæs. All turbine owners already pay a standing charge for their use of the grid, he stresses.

As expected new regulations for wind turbine ownership in Denmark came into force at the beginning of the year. From now on private people may own a share of a wind turbine corresponding to a production of 30,000 kWh a year if they live in the same council district as the turbine, or a neighbouring district, or if they have been employed in the same district or neighbouring district for two years within the past ten. Furthermore, ownership rights to a wind turbine remain with the owner, even if regulations governing ownership are changed; several members of the same household may each own a share corresponding to 30,000 kWh; and wind turbines with only one owner, but which produce more than 30,000, can only be installed on land which is physically connected to the owner's property, or is used by the owner for agricultural purposes. Finally, companies can buy shares in a wind plant corresponding to their consumption of electricity, plus 50% which they may sell to the grid, or install turbines on their own property, or property connected to their own.

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