Like the plans of most companies in the sector, the 2012 energy reform that put an end to the premiums to green technologies for their contribution to the fight against climate change put in a drawer the 16 wind farms with about 700 megawatts (MW) of the Galician Mas Cero Grados Estudio in the municipalities of Villaobispo de Otero and Magaz de Cepeda, in the province of León. The architecture, interior design and renewable engineering firm had been working for almost a decade on the El Manzanal macro-project. It was the crown jewel of its portfolio, with an estimated value of 250 million euros, once it reached the ready-to-build phase. The parks obtained the municipal pre-licenses, but the Junta de Castilla y León put the brakes on the administrative process, considering that the spreadsheet submitted by Mas Cero Grados Estudio to prove the company's financial capacity was insufficient.
The same formula was enough to certify the self-sufficiency of what later became its rival in the area, Grupo Lamelas Viloria, against which Mas Cero Grados has just filed a complaint for fraud. It accuses its managers, Manuel Lamelas Viloria and Pedro García Merayo, of being in collusion with Carmen Saavedra, of the company Saavedra Wind - which theoretically was a partner of the company based in Santiago de Compostela to take forward the 16 parks - to "ensure" that the competition process opened by the regional administration to resolve who would exploit the area "would be resolved in their favor, thanks to the historical influence that the Lamelas Viloria group has in the Junta de Castilla y León, with the cooperation" of Alfonso Arroyo, at that time general director of Energy and Mines, whom the complaint points out as a possible perpetrator of a crime of prevarication.
Contact with Saavedra
With the recovery of the renewable sector, Mas Cero Grados decided in 2018 to resume its plans and sought possible allies to gain investment muscle. It was Carmen Saavedra, according to the complaint, who contacted the management of the Galician company, "assuring at all times that she had both the economic means required, as well as the necessary technical knowledge" to manage the access and connection permits in Red Eléctrica. Saavedra put as a condition the realization of an audit to "assess the feasibility of the project". It was commissioned in October 2019 and it was not until July 2020 that the results were delivered.
During all that time, the head of Mas Cero Grados, José Antonio Fernández Chico, "insisted on the urgency of starting the administrative process as soon as possible" because of the risk of other possible candidates appearing in those same areas of development. And so it happened. On July 28, 2020, four wind farms of the Lamelas Viloria Group were put on public exhibition which, if authorized, would leave the possible power of the Mas Cero Grados projects "very reduced". To continue with the process, Carmen Saavedra demanded, according to the complaint, the transfer of the surface rights that the project of the company from Compostela had already signed with the owners of the land. Fernández Chico's team agreed, even without payment, "because if these projects were not presented in competition within the deadline, the complainant would lose the possibility" of developing El Manzanal.
"Irregularities" and "unfair resolution".
Mas Cero Grados assures that its alleged ally "delayed as much as possible the request for administrative authorization". That there was "deceit and scheming" because "neither had the capacity" nor "even more serious, had the purpose of carrying out" the planned tasks. "Not only did it deceive fraudulently with respect to its technical and economic capacity, but it was in cahoots", says the complainant, with the Lamelas Viloria Group, which finally won in the competition process after the Junta de Castilla y León rejected the allegations presented against its parks. Mas Cero Grados speaks of "irregularities" in these projects (in the accreditation of the financial capacity, the surface rights or the design of the wind turbine complexes) and of an "arbitrary and knowingly unjust and legal" resolution of the former high-ranking official of the Leonese administration.
When Mas Cero Grados asked Saavedra for the resolution, the Galician firm assures that it only sent the first and last page, "which prevented the complainant from knowing the date of notification" in order to be able to file an appeal. As the lawyer of Mas Cero Grados demanded at the same time via e-mail to Saavedra. It was never formalized.