The Spanish government encouraged its citizens to invest in solar energy and promised subsidy for their investment along with a guaranteed purchase price for the energy produced.
"It was supposed to be my source of energy, but it has been the source of all my troubles," lamented Cesar Vea, an owner of a solar park in Cantabria, who spent one million euros on six solar panels in 2007. "My investment was supposed to have been paid off in 15 years time after which I was supposed to start making profits. I really thought it would be a good way to earn money to pay for my son's studies if he wanted to study abroad."
In 2010, the horizon darkened for Vea and others when huge investors who were attracted to Spain's long hours of sunshine began to flock in, which resulted in an electricity production capacity that was nine times higher than predicted. Incapable of delivering the payment, the government cut off the promised subsidies to its people who had invested in the solar energy project. (Related: Corporations now trying to charge people for choosing solar energy.)
Vea said the government sent a message that it would stop paying the people who invested in the solar energy project and that they would be excluded from the bonus system.
The solar park owner said he couldn't imagine their own prime minister bankrupting his own people.
The solar project, according to Vea, was the whole family's dream and they had pooled all their savings into the solar park. He added that when the subsidies were cut off, they were no longer able to pay back their loan and they were even close to losing their family home.
Vea started a demonstration in front of the Spanish parliament six months ago to demand justice and find a solution.
The 62,000 Spaniards who invested in the government-sponsored solar energy project now feel cheated and the Spanish National Association of Solar Energy Producers or Anpier, a State scope and non-profit association that represents and defends the interests of small and medium producers of photovoltaic solar energy, is now questioning the government about the issue.
Members of the organization thought they were helping their country by pivoting to solar energy, which was then under pressure to meet European Union goals in ecological transition.
The group said the government had encouraged its citizens to invest in solar energy, but it never kept its promises except in paying them back for the installations. The association added that the lack of planning, bad calculations and insufficient regulations pushed the state to improvise.
According to Anpier Vice-President Juan Antonio Cabrero, the authorities could have told them to limit the number of investors and the group is now asking for compensation for the damage that the government has caused them. Anpier is demanding from the state at least 25 to 30 percent out of the 30 to 50 percent that it has cut from investors.
Meanwhile, Spain's conservative People’s Party is now pushing for an amendment that could serve as a lifeline for the families who were affected by the government's decision to withdraw the subsidies.
Juan Diego Requena, spokesman for the People's Party, said the goal of the amendment is to allow the families who built the solar energy installations to receive the bonuses that they were promised.
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