First projects for region of Extremadura

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Extremadura, one of Spain's few totally virgin wind power regions, is now officially receiving project proposals. By late last month verbal commitments by developers had reached around 1600 MW, says José María Santa of the region's ruling PSOE socialist party. More proposals are likely to come, he says, suggesting developers are forestalling formal applications to the last moment in order to avoid copycats. So far, Enel Unión Fenosa Energías Renovables (Eufer) is the only developer to reveal any details of its plan. The company, 80% controlled by Italian utility Enel, with 20% held by Spanish utility Unión Fenosa, proposes 19 wind projects, which it says will be the mainstay of a 650 MW, EUR 850-1000 million renewable energy investment plan in the region. While competitor Iberdrola remains officially tight-lipped, a company source working in the region says "our plans top Eufer's." Acciona and Genesa are also not talking. Extremadura is Spain's poorest region. Until last year the regional government was vociferous in upholding its ban on wind development to protect landscapes and income generated from rural tourism. In 2005, it finally bowed to pressure from local mayors, wooed by developer promises of attractive land lease agreements, special levies and road and grid improvements. The resulting wind regulation it put in place, however, demands three local jobs for every installed megawatt and forbids turbines on land over 650 metres. "Prohibitively restrictive," says the opposition Conservative PP party, which is pushing to amend the regulation.

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