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GE May Invest in Polish Wind Farms Amid Renewable Law Changes

General Electric Co. (GE) is considering investing in Polish wind farms in addition to providing turbines as changes in clean-energy subsidies encourage developers to hasten projects.

“We are watching the rise of wind power in the Polish energy mix with increasing interest, especially in recent months,” said Beata Stelmach, chief executive officer for Poland and the Baltic states. “As a technology provider, we cannot exclude direct financing of wind projects.”

Poland, which gets 90 percent of its power from coal, wants to replace its green-certificate program with auctions for fixed-price contracts from 2016, according to a draft law. The change is designed to drive down prices for renewable energy and will push developers to finalize their investments to secure existing subsidies.

Developers need to secure agreements to connect infrastructure to the grid before the start of 2016 to qualify for the old subsidies, which cost consumers and the government about 4 billion zloty ($1.2 billion) a year.

The government hasn’t ruled out changes in the cut-off date, because of the “huge interest from industry,” Deputy Economy Minister Jerzy Pietrewicz said two weeks ago. Legislators will hold a public hearing on the law next week.

Poland has attracted overseas investors including Israel’s Enlight Renewable Energy Ltd. (ENLT), China’s CEE-Equity Partners fund, Czech EnerCap Capital Partners and Lithuania’s Geco Energy.

Wind farms more than doubled output in the last three years to 5.9 terawatt-hours in 2013, energy regulator data show. That’s 3.7 percent of Poland’s power generation.

GE, which has delivered 370 megawatts of turbines to Polish wind farms, sees the acceleration of projects as an opportunity for a revamp of infrastructure. GE expects Polish wind-energy will be profitable without subsidies within 15 years because of falling technology costs.

Generation costs for onshore wind farms have dropped 33 percent since 2008, Stelmach said in the interview this week.

GE Energy Financial Services said in March it expects to invest “hundreds of millions of euros in renewable energy across Europe this year.”