Photovoltaic plants: for the commencement of operations the parallel connection is sufficient

For the Quarto Conto Energia the effective production of electricity is not necessary

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By decision no. 1870 of 17 February 2014 the Regional Administrative Court of Lazio (TAR Lazio) annulled the decision of the GSE in which it notified an energy company of the loss of its incentive tariffs as granted pursuant to Ministerial Decree of 5 May 2011 (“Quarto Conto Energia”) and the annulment (annullamento in autotutela) of the decision admitting the company to the tariffs dated 29 October 2012, requesting the repayment of Euro 38.617,97 paid to the company by way of incentive.

According to the GSE, the plant had not commenced operation within the final deadline of 26 August 2012 for access to the incentive tariffs under the Quarto Conto Energia as the plant, in the period form 21 August – 15 October 2012 had not generated any electricity.

In substance the GSE considered that the commencement of operations occurred only in the case in which
(i)The plant was connected in parallel with the electricity grid, and
(ii)There was a real and continuing generation of electricity and therefore the real functioning of the photovoltaic plant.

Said interpretation was not shared by the TAR Lazio which by means of the above-mentioned decisions, accepting the applicant’s, annulled the GSE’s decision.

In order to better understand the decision of the TAR Lazio, it is opportune to recall that according to art 3, parag 1, letter c) of the Quarto Conto Energia the “date of commencement of operation of a photovoltaic plant” is “the first date when all the following conditions are met:
c.1) the plant is connected in parallel with the electricity grid;
c.2) all meters necessary for the accounting of the energy produced and exchanged or injected into the grid are installed;
c.3) all obligations regarding the regulated access to the grids have been complied with”.

The Quarto Conto Energia, therefore, with reference to the requisite under point c1 does not in any way provide for the further requisite of the effective generation of electricity, it being sufficient that the plant has been constructed with all the structures and electrical elements that render the plant suitable for operations.

In addition, for the Administrative Court Judge, given the clarity and the exhaustive nature of the discipline contained in the Quarto Conto Energia, the UNIPEDE (Unione Internazionale dei Produttori e Distributori di Energia Elettrica) technical rules, referred to by the GSE and which provide that for the entry into operation effective generation is required, are wholly irrelevant.

Only by means of Ministerial Decree of 5 July 2012 (“Quinto Conto Energia”) were the further requisites of effective operation and the generation of electricity introduced in order that a PV plant is considered as “operational”.

According to the Quinto Conto Energia, in fact the “date of commencement of operations” of a PV plant coincides with the first operation of the plant in parallel with the electricity grid, as notified by the grid operator and registered by it in the GAUDI system (Sistema di Gestione delle Anagrafiche Uniche degli Impianti).

Finally it is useful to note that the decision of the TAR Lazio is limited to clarifying the scope of the requisite under point c1) and does not enter into the merits of the requisites listed under points c2) and c3).

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