Energy Law Update: REFIT Revisions

Author:Mr Peter McLay, Eoin Cassidy, William Kingston, William Carmody and Rory Kirrane
Profession:Mason Hayes & Curran

Virtually all of Ireland's onshore wind farms are, between them, supported by the three REFIT feed-in tariff schemes established by the Irish government and administered by the Irish energy regulator. 

A recent clarification notice regarding applications under the REFIT Schemes will be of interest to REFIT applicants who are in the process of modifying their grid connections, or who encounter delays obtaining planning permission.

Separately there have been important changes to the REFIT 2 rules in respect of "connection" and "over-installation".

The Rules of REFIT

The Irish government has established three REFIT feed-in tariff support schemes, which between them are intended to support approximately 4,700MW of renewable electricity generation.

The REFIT schemes have legal effect through references in the legislation that constitutes Ireland's energy-related Public Service Obligation mechanism. However, in practical terms the rules of the REFIT schemes are set out in PDF documents that are maintained by the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources ("DCENR") on its website - click here.

These rules are occasionally amended by the DCENR without fanfare. This happened most recently in November 2015, and the changes are summarised below.

REFIT 2 and 3: Application Requirements Clarified

The rules of the REFIT 2 and REFIT 3 schemes require that applications for support be made by 31 December 2015, and that applicants submit as part of their application:

a copy of full planning permission; and evidence of an offer or agreement, that will allow the project to connect to the electricity transmission or distribution system. However, a clarification published by the DCENR in mid-November 2015 now allows applicants to submit the following, in place of the documents listed above:

a letter from the relevant planning authority stating that the REFIT applicant has applied for planning permission and that this application is currently under consideration. This letter must include the original submission date for the planning permission; and where the project has a grid connection agreement, a letter from the transmission or distribution system operator stating that the project has made a "complete" application for the modification of the connection.  This option appears to be intended to accommodate situations in which the "modification" is actually the transfer of grid capacity to the REFIT applicant from a third party, with the...

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