Cosa Nostra Goes Green

â''Like giant sentinels, dozens of wind turbines straddle the mountain ridges near Sicily's infamous mafia stronghold of Corleone,â'' the ancestral home of the fictional Corleone family of Godfather fame. So begins a story in todayâ''s Financial Times detailing the alleged muscling of the Sicilian mob into the lucrative business of building wind farms, taking advantage of generous government subsidies. "Sicily is blessed with sun and wind, but it is also cursed by the Mafia," an official told the FT. So itâ''s only to be expected that Cosa Nostra would make the sun and wind one of its things.

At the root of the problem is a law requiring the national grid to make payments to owners of wind farms even when the farms are not actually generating electricityâ''a feature not found in the â''feed-inâ'' wind production credits that have made Germany, Denmark, and Spain Europeâ''s largest producers of wind-generated electricity.

According to the FT, Sicily has at least 30 wind farms with a combined capacity of 600 MW, with a further 1800 MW approved in principle. Many of them are owned by developer Vito Nicastri, known locally as â''lord of the winds.â''

However, â''wind power is now passé as the market is virtually saturated for big developments. The future, they say, is solar. Mr Nicastri is applying for permits for nine large solar power plants.â''

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