Fourth vote delay for prices in revised renewable energy law

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The latest revisions to Austria's renewable electricity law -- originally announced in 2006 and now planned to come into force at the start of next year -- have been rejected after political intervention. A planned parliamentary vote on the revision was cancelled for the fourth time since the law was announced. The vote has now been pushed back to July 10. The Green Party forced the cancellation after insisting the plan went back to the parliamentary economics committee for further discussion. The latest draft included small improvements on previous versions but was not the definitive breakthrough hoped for, says Austria's wind energy association IG, Windkraft. Controversial mandates for the proportion of electricity to come from different renewable energy sources had been dropped from the draft, but it retained a cap of just -- 21 million a year for renewables support. Rates of pay for renewables production next year remained unspecified, with rules for setting prices left to be decided until after the law came into force next year and the rates not determined until 2010. With no investor certainty, wind development would have been stymied well into 2010, says the association. Austria's wind market has been at a virtual standstill since the new law was announced (Windpower Monthly, March 2008). Just ten turbines have been installed since. Another draft now being debated has dealt with the pricing issue, says the association, with pricing rules due to be set this autumn so the rates for 2009 are known at the time the law comes into effect. Still another concern, it says, is that even when prices have been set for a particular year, if the subsidy pot for that year is exhausted, any projects remaining in the planning queue have to be resubmitted anew for the next year. As such, they still have no guarantee of getting through the permitting process before that year's budget is used up.

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