Energy Minister in heavy weather over cash donation / News / The Foreigner

Energy Minister in heavy weather over cash donation. Centre Party (Sp) Petroleum and Energy Minister Terje Riis-Johansen is facing questions over the timing of a donation from a municipal-owned power company. The Opposition believes he faces serious consequences. Troms Kraft gave the Party 200,000 kroner last year to promote a project on renewable energy. Riis-Johansen awarded the company a concession to build a controversial wind turbine park on Vannøya in Troms County. He turned down complaints about his decision from two action groups, environmental group the Green Warriors of Norway (Miljøvernforbundet), and local reindeer owners flat.

terje, riis-johansen, troms, kraft, centre, conservative, progress, christian, democratic, party, gunnar, gundersen, vannoeya, troms, wind, turbine, park, no-confidence, nve, miljoevernforbundet



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Energy Minister in heavy weather over cash donation

Published on Thursday, 16th September, 2010 at 20:57 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson   .
Last Updated on 17th September 2010 at 13:09.

Centre Party (Sp) Petroleum and Energy Minister Terje Riis-Johansen is facing questions over the timing of a donation from a municipal-owned power company. The Opposition believes he faces serious consequences.

Petroleum and Energy Minister Terje Riis-Johansen
Petroleum and Energy Minister Terje Riis-Johansen
Photo: Norwegian Parliament/Flickr


Conflict of interest

Troms Kraft gave the Party 200,000 kroner last year to promote a project on renewable energy. Riis-Johansen awarded the company a concession to build a controversial wind turbine park on Vannøya in Troms County.

He turned down complaints about his decision from two action groups, environmental group the Green Warriors of Norway (Miljøvernforbundet), and local reindeer owners flat.

Dagens Næringsliv (DN) claims Sp knew it would be getting money at the same time the concession was awarded by NVE (the Water Resources and Energy Directorate), part of the Ministry.

“It is clear the Minister had a conflict of interests if Troms Kraft even hinted it would give Sp [financial] support at the time the Ministry decided the appeal. I cannot refrain from questioning whether the outcome could have been affected by money from the one party in the case,” says Henrik Boehlke, partner at Hjort law firm representing the reindeer owners.

Serious

“There are many coincidences that are connected together in this matter, but the financial contribution Sp received from Troms Kraft was illegal. We cannot have a situation in Norway where a public company receives preferential treatment in return for money,” Gunnar Gundersen, Conservative Party (H) MP for Hedmark tells The Foreigner.

Riis-Johansen has confirmed his party will be paying the money back, but Gundersen says the Opposition will be taking the matter further.

FrP (Progress) heads the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Scrutiny and Constitutional Affairs (kontroll- og konstitusjonskomité) and has called an extraordinary meeting of the committee on Tuesday to discuss whether to open a case against Riis-Johansen or not.

“Only 1/3 of the members need to vote in favour. I think it is ‘a piece of cake’”, says Gundersen.

Riis-Johansen could face his second no-confidence motion from the Opposition this year.

Just over three months ago, the Christian Democrats (KrF) voted against the Minister, claiming he deliberately misled Parliament over the start date of the Mongstad gas power plant’s carbon capture and storage project.

“It all depends on how the meeting goes and how he documents the matter, but I believe the situation is as serious for him as it was with Mongstad,” Gundersen says.

Timing

Troms Kraft’s park will span 3.5 square kilometres. The 18, 100-foot high wind turbines will produce 138 GWh (Gigawatt hours), equivalent to the power consumption of 7,000 households.

The company has also received 346 million kroner towards building the facility from Enova, a state company owned by the Ministry. The amount is just under half the cost.

 “The key questions for me are at which point did Sp ask the power company for financial support and when Troms Kraft actually decided to comply,” Henrik Boehlke tells DN.




Published on Thursday, 16th September, 2010 at 20:57 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson   .
Last updated on 17th September 2010 at 13:09.

This post has the following tags: terje, riis-johansen, troms, kraft, centre, conservative, progress, christian, democratic, party, gunnar, gundersen, vannoeya, troms, wind, turbine, park, no-confidence, nve, miljoevernforbundet.





  
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