Enel investigated for foot dragging on grid connection

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The Italian energy regulator, Autorita per l'energia Elettrica e il Gas (AEEG), last month opened a formal inquiry into failures or delays to connect wind and other renewable energy plant to the grid by a distribution unit of giant Italian utility Enel. The inquiry comes after a broader fact-finding study by the regulator last year into the modality and time required for grid connections by the country's largest distribution companies. The move was welcomed by Associazione Nazionale Energia del Vento (ANEV), the Italian wind energy association, which said it had complained about grid connection problems with Enel in the past. Possible service failings were identified in the regulator's original investigation, but Enel Distribuzione could potentially get off without a scratch by providing justification for its foot dragging. The regulator said any eventual fine -- which could range from EUR 25,000 to EUR 150 million -- would be commensurate with the economic damages caused by the disservice. AEEG opens formal inquiries when there are significant indications of possible market distortions. In its decision to launch of the probe, the regulator points to a number of instances in which Enel Distribuzione had sent cost estimates for grid connections or connected renewable power plants to the grid beyond the maximum period laid out in the law. In the majority of those cases, the regulator said Enel did not pay the penalties due to those seeking the grid connection for the delay. According to AEEG, Enel Distribuzione also rejected some requests for connections to the medium-tension network without an adequate explanation. On other occasions it granted grid connections subject to the applicant's construction of "extremely complex and onerous grid infrastructure."

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