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Spain's solar police to kick in your door

Published: 12 Nov 2013 11:43 GMT+01:00

As if Spaniards had not already been dissuaded by the potential €60 million fines they face for illegally generating their own solar power, they now have to look forward to a knock on the door from the 'solar police'.

A change to the ruling Popular Party’s (PP) Energy Law allows inspectors to “raid” properties they are suspicious of, armed only with administrative authorization.

If the suspect denies entry, Spain’s Industry Department will then ask for a court order that guarantees inspectors access to the property alongside Spanish national police.

Officers will be able to seize all documents related to to energy consumption and seal off entry to the property.

Lawyers consulted by Spain's VozPopuli online newspaper raised serious doubts about whether the move was constitutional.

They also said it set a worrying precedent by obliging citizens to let inspectors enter a private residence.

All this means generating your own solar energy without paying for the privilege is a risky business now in Spain.

Whereas Spain once flung money at companies who set up solar power programmes in the country, it now plans to slap a fee on people who create their energy for personal consumption.

As the Wall Street Journal put it, Spain is punishing "a small but growing segment of the middle class" who have installed solar panels to generate their own electricity.

Forbes also slammed the Spanish government’s move back in August by saying, "You get the feeling that government officials were out of ideas, stared up at the sky one day and thought, 'I've got it! We’ll tax the sun!'"

The PP’s plan is to raise cash to help pay off their 'tariff deficit', or the difference between the cost of operating the country's electricity grid and the money it rakes in.

"Imposed by decree, the reform aims to raise money for tackling a €26 billion debt to power producers which the state has built up over the years in regulating energy costs and prices," Australia's Business Spectator reported.

According to VozPopuli, the ‘payback’ to big energy companies has taken the form of this new Solar Energy Law.

This makes independent power generation by households one of the biggest financial risks Spaniards can currently take at a time when cutting costs is ever more necessary.

Alex Dunham (alex.dunham@thelocal.com)

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