With special taxes against the expansion of green electricity [premium]

With special taxes against the expansion of green electricity [premium]

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Will Austria achieve its goal and be 100 percent renewable energy sources in nine years? The turquoise-green coalition in Vienna cannot provide the answer to this on its own. Even if the overdue Renewable Expansion Act gets down to earth before spring, the decision on the success or failure of the energy transition will ultimately be made in the countryside.

Because here, where all the new wind and solar power plants are to be built in the coming years, resistance to this vision is forming in parts of the population. And some provincial governors cheerfully jump on the train. Lower Austria has passed an amendment to the regional planning law, which is intended to prevent large open-space solar systems. The SPÖ-led Burgenland went a step further in December and introduced a wind and solar charge “to compensate for the stress on the landscape caused by photovoltaic systems (…) And wind turbines”. The industry was alarmed even then. Meanwhile, so is the government.

Ten times more solar systems

On Wednesday, the coalition officially objected to the Burgenland amendment. She justified the rare step with the “endangerment of federal interests” by the new fee. This is counterproductive and is “in stark contrast” to the current government program.

As is well known, Turquoise-Green wants to spend ten billion euros in funding in the coming years to make the country self-sufficient in green electricity by 2030. In order for this to be possible, the number of wind turbines in the country would have to be nearly tripled and that of photovoltaic systems increased tenfold. Since spatial planning in Austria is a matter for the federal states, the government here depends on the willingness of the states to cooperate. According to the current legal situation, the federal states could, for example, use their veto on the construction of new wind farms.

The fact that the previous wind power Mecca Burgenland is stepping on the brakes is particularly tricky for the planned expansion. Because in the past few years a large part of the wind power plants was built here in the east of the country. The government wants to change that and is planning different funding levels depending on the location. If the federal states introduce additional fees, this plan will be reduced to absurdity, the argument goes.

Blank check for Burgenland?

The Burgenland Provincial Infrastructure Councilor Heinrich Dorner (SPÖ) defended the controversial amendment back in December: No new levy would be introduced, but only a “legal gray area removed”. This would give the municipalities a secure legal basis for income from the construction of new wind and solar parks. The tax is set by ordinance by the state government.

This is precisely what is obviously a thorn in the side of the federal government: “A blank check for Governor Hans Peter Doskozil (SPÖ) is unacceptable,” says Magnus Brunner, turquoise State Secretary in the Climate Protection Ministry. The “solo efforts in energy policy” by the Burgenland Governor Hans Peter Doskozil are “not expedient”.

After the government’s formal objection, the state parliament can now repeat the legislative resolution. If the federal government does not withdraw its objection, a committee made up of 13 members each from the National Council and the Federal Council decides. The SPÖ Burgenland announced that it would examine the cause.



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