Denying media reports that it had agreed to a proposal to abolish the Net Metering and Net Accounting schemes, the Solar Industries Association (SIA) said it only agreed to the price revisions approved by the Cabinet in August 2016.
The prevailing Net Plus tariffs under the Soorya Bala Sangramaya scheme were proposed to be revised in two tiers: rooftop solar power systems up to 50kW at a flat rate of Rs. 19.75/kWh for a contract period of 20 years, and systems above 50kW at Rs. 18.75/kWh also for 20 years. According to a statement by the SIA, it had only agreed to this price revision.
“The association vehemently denies the news items being circulated claiming that it had agreed to the officials’ proposal to abolish the Net Metering and Net Accounting schemes and retain only the Net Plus scheme which will eventually lead to an industrial unemployment crisis,” the statement said.
The high-end domestic electricity consumers pay Rs. 45/kWh as against the bottom end consumers (using 60 units a month) who pay a heavily subsidies rate of Rs. 4.68/kWh, the SIA explained in its statement. However, it said, these high-end users are less than 10% of the total CEB customer base, and a majority of them have already installed solar power systems.
Just adding a 50MW solar power plant to the national grid could save the country Rs. 2 billion a year in costs that would otherwise be incurred on thermal power, the SIA said.
A 50MW solar plant could also save 40,000 MT of carbon dioxide emissions a year as against massive pollution added daily to the environment by other fossil-fuel based energy sources, it added.
The Ministry of Power and Energy together with the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) had reportedly issued a circular on 28 May informing the SIA to refuse to accept applications for large solar power projects.
“The Solar rooftop industry in Sri Lanka was threatened for closure by various parties who had very negative ideologies about green solar power. The most popular argument they brought in was ‘The Solar industry converts the highest fee-paying customers of CEB to be self-sufficient in energy and this will reduce the CEB income,” the statement said.
SIA Secretary Lakmal Fernando told RepublicNext that the recent proposals also violate the human rights of the customers as the Government restrict their right to generate their own power requirement at a lower cost.
“It costs less than Rs. 17 Kw/h for the government to generate electricity, but some consumers have to pay Rs. 45 Kwh which is not fair,” he said.