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Estonia: Court halts handover of Tootsi wind farm plot to Eesti Energia for 30 days

Estonian news - eteap December 21, 2016

Baltic News Service, 21.12.2016

The Tallinn Administrative Court has suspended for 30 days the handover of the Tootsi wind farm plot to the state owned energy group Eesti Energia as an interim protection measure as part of its handling of a complaint by the private wind farmdeveloper AS Raisner.

The decision of the government to grant the plot situated in Parnu County to Eesti Energia runs counter to the State Assets Act, which says that the government must carry out any transactions with state assets in conformity with legislation and in a transparent and verifiable manner, the plaintiff’s representative Piret Blankion, partner with Derling law office, said in a press release.

“The state cannot give valuable land to one market participant without a tender, as this undermines free competition and has an unequal effect on the entrepreneurs active on the market. That initial protection was applied demonstrates that also in the opinion of the court giving land to Eesti Energia may be in contradiction with the State Assets Act as well as European Union law, and may constitute unlawful state aid,” Blankin said.

The court applied initial protection for 30 days by suspending the order of the government No. 404 from Dec. 8 and making a notation concerning prohibition on the Tootsi property in favor of AS Raisner. The proceeding will continue in the administrative court.

The Estonian Wind Technology Association meanwhile has filed with the European Commission a complaint alleging that the decision of the government to give the Tootsi wind farm plot to the state-owned energy company Eesti Energia for free constitutes unlawful state aid. The association argues that the Tootsi plot was not allocated to Eesti Energia on market terms, which should have had to be established by means of an auction.

According to the association the Tootsi wind farm makes up 54 percent of the whole volume of wind farms planned to be erected in Estonia.

The Estonian government on Dec. 8 decided to approve increasing the share capital of Eesti Energia and hand over to the company the Tootsi plot worth around 4.1 million euros as noncash consideration. The company is planning to build a wind farm worth several hundred million euros and with an output of around 150 megawatts on the plot by 2020.

Eesti Energia in September announced a tender for the design and construction of a wind farmin the Tootsi Suursoo area of exhausted peatlands in Parnu County. To be installed in the wind farm are 38 turbines.

AS Raisner seeks to develop a wind farm with a nominal capacity of 150 megawatts in the territory of the Luganuse rural municipality in East-Viru County.

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