The political battle over solar feed-in tariff incentives in the Czech Republic has taken a more public -- and high profile -- turn, as Czech Prime Minister Jan Fischer declares his government's intent to pass a bill that would cut the rates paid to producers of renewable energy, notably solar companies.
PRAGUE, Czech Republic ( TheStreet) -- The political battle over solar feed-in tariff incentives in the Czech Republic has taken a more public -- and high profile -- turn. On Monday, Czech Prime Minister Jan Fischer told a Czech newspaper, E15, that the government's priority is to pass a bill that would cut the rates paid to producers of renewable energy, notably solar companies. Prime Minister Fischer argued to the Czech newspaper -- in an article quoted by Bloomberg -- that without a substantial reduction in the feed-in tariffs, the rate of solar growth in the Czech Republic would lead to a "significant" increase in electricity prices for consumers. In previous weeks, the Czech state-run grid operator has made its case that the rate of solar expansion may be too fast for the grid and could lead to problems in energy distribution -- and even the need to shut down conventional power plants during peak seasons. As German solar projects wane in the second half of 2010, after its feed-in tariff reductions go into effect, the Czech Republic has been cast as one of the growth markets for solar. Solar players including Solarfun Power ( SOLF) and Suntech Power ( STP) are targeting solar projects in the Czech Republic. Many solar countries have commented on the Czech Republic as part of the group of companies expected to make up the slack from Germany -- however, its overall size is not on the level with Italy, where the biggest boom is being pegged for the second half of 2010. Italy is also expected to soon announce feed-in tariff cuts that are expected to take effect at the outset of 2011. -- Reported by Eric Rosenbaum in New York.