Wind power in Basque country finally takes off with 26 MW go-ahead

Wind power in the Basque country is finally taking off following the go-ahead for a bid by Eólicas de Euskadi to develop and operate 26 MW in Oiz. The area is one of six defined in the regional government's wind zoning plan, or Plan Territorial Sectorial de la Energía Eólica. Capped at 175 MW to 2005, the plan was given the go-ahead earlier this year following two years of fine tuning, mainly due to obstacles posed by provincial environment departments. Whispers of favouritism are rife following the concession to Eólicas de Euskadi, which is equally controlled by utility Iberdrola -- a Basque-based company and the regional distributor -- and the regional government's own energy agency, Ente Vasco de Energía. The same set-up is also behind the 24 MW Elgea plant, the region's only operating wind station which came online in 1999. The next call for tenders will be for an extension of Elgea. The regional industry department claims its chosen bidder for Oiz was based on "technical and financial capacity" criteria. Yet the beaten wind contenders include the Guascor group, which controls one of Spain's top wind developers, Corporación Eólica SA, and the Spanish energy division of Swiss engineering firm ABB.