Latvia’s economics ministry has said several companies may have committed fraud in relation to up to 30 cogeneration plants in the country.

In a report issued last week, the ministry said the plants were required to be commissioned by a set date in order to win green energy licences, which would enable them to charge a higher tariff for their power.

However, while economics minister Arvils Aseradens (pictured) said the ministry had been led to believe that construction of the plants was finished and they were ready to come online, an inspection of a control group of eight plants in October showed that none were operating.

“The inspections prove that there is no power generation taking place in the inspected cogeneration plants, and it is credible that the plants had been run just for the necessary 72-hour test period,” the ministry said in its report.  

Of the inspected plants, the ministry found inaccuracies in the documents presented at the 544 MWe/1124 MWth Rigas Energija plant, which at time of inspection was running at just 5-7 per cent of its capacity.

At another plant, Briedis Buve, the ministry discovered that permission to connect to the grid was issued one day before its 72-hour test period was completed.

According to Aseradens, responsibility for the fraud lies with grid operator Sadales Tikls, which conducted the tests and issued the green energy licenses. Aseradens has reportedly called for the potential firing of Sadales Tikls CEO Andis Pinkulis.

The investigation began earlier this month after a report by Latvia’s TV3 said several firms had won green energy licences through cheating on the tests conducted by Sadales Tikls.

The report said that while some CHP plant operators failed to complete their plants by the licencing deadline, they obtained licences anyway by showing power generation from portable generators during the tests.

The report prompted the resignation of Rolands Lusvers, who was in charge of managing Sadales Tikls’ grid connection process.   

The fraud could cost Latvian energy consumers up to €100m ($116m) over the next decade, TV3 said.