The European Commission announced on Monday it was investigating Spain’s use of public money to help coal-fired power plants reduce pollution, citing a potential breach of EU state aid rules.
The EU executive said it was concerned that Spain had given some power producers an unfair competitive advantage. All coal power stations are required to limit their emissions of harmful particulates by using costly sulphur oxide filters under the bloc’s Large Combustion Plants (LCP) Directive introduced in 2001.
"EU State aid rules do not allow member states to relieve companies of this responsibility using taxpayer money,” EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager said in a statement.
The Commission pointed to €440 million the Spanish government has paid out since 2007 through an ‘environmental incentive scheme’ to support the installation of new sulphur oxide filters in 14 coal-fired power plants to help them comply with EU clean air laws. The payments are scheduled to continue until 2020.
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