Latvia plans compensations for those living near wind turbines

There have been years of fighting between residents and wind farm developers, and over the years Latvia has fallen well behind its neighbors in the development of wind energy. Latvia now plans to implement a compensation system for those whose properties are close to wind turbines, Latvian Television reported on May 5.

To ensure that everyone benefits directly from wind energy production - both the developers of the parks and the residents living near the plants - it is planned to set compensation to be paid annually by the installers of wind turbines. Half to local residents, half to the municipality.

"This is a very important step, because this is the central issue at the moment, why municipalities are not really enthusiastic and residents feel it," says Toms Nāburgs, head of the Latvian Wind Association.

Climate and Energy Minister Kaspars Melnis (Greens and Farmers Union) agrees: "This is an answer to people's question of what will happen to us when these wind turbines are located near us. So the negotiations were quite difficult, both with the municipalities and with the developers of the wind turbine projects."

The parties' compromise was that municipalities could receive €2,500 a year for each megawatt installed on their land.

The amount is fixed and does not depend on how much electricity the wind farm generates. Around 13 municipalities have expressed interest in introducing such compensation. And such payments could be introduced directly to them, not at the national level, says the Latvian Association of Local Governments.

Both local authorities and industry recognize that payments could help Latvia finally get the boost it needs in the wind sector. Foreign experts share similar views, including the head of the European Wind Energy Association and the Director General of the Danish Energy Agency, whose country ranks first in the world in terms of the share of solar and wind energy in total energy consumption and where such a compensation principle for wind energy is already in place.

"The 'not in my backyard' attitude is everywhere. I understand that it is a completely new situation for neighbors if wind turbines are built next to their house," said Kristoffer Böttzauw, Director General of the Danish Energy Agency.

Giles Dickson, CEO of WindEurope, the European wind energy association, says Latvia has been slower than other countries in introducing the principle that allows local authorities to charge money for local communities. "Most countries in the EU did this early on and local people have been benefiting for a long time," he said.

The Ministry of Climate and Energy plans to put the compensation solution out to public consultation in the near future and then to the government.


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