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Home PV subsidies will continue, says minister

By Angelos Anastasiou

WHILE the state electricity company’s (EAC) employee unions came out against the government’s recent decision to scale back the total capacity allotted to domestic photovoltaic (PV) systems from the initial 2014 plan, Energy Minister Yiorgos Lakkotrypis yesterday denied any such intention and said the scheme will continue and will be enhanced.

Speaking after signing subsidy agreements for two PV parks, Lakkotrypis said the net-metering programme which started last year, was a successful one, and invited 5,000 applications for net-metering systems to be installed in homes, of which 2,800 have already been completed. Of those, 2,000 relate to low-income household installations which are 50 per cent funded by the Renewable Energy Sources (RES) fund. The direct benefits to consumers, he said, are significant.

“It is the same planning that will apply in 2014 and the following years,” Lakkotrypis said.

Asked to comment on criticism thrown his way by the House Commerce Committee, that large-scale solar thermal energy was being promoted over domestic PV systems, Lakkotrypis said that the net-metering scheme will not be abandoned.

The committee has invited the energy minister to its Monday session, so that deputies can grill him on the details of the new government policy. Lakkotrypis confirmed he will be in attendance and will offer in-depth details of the government plan.

But the EAC’s employee unions were unconvinced. In a written statement, the unions accuse the government of giving in to economic interests at the expense of citizens’ right to Cyprus’ natural resources.

“Domestic photovoltaics are the future and the natural ending of the energy problems in our country,” the EAC employees said. “The energy ministry’s decision forfeits citizens’ right to the resource that nature has blessed our country with, so that only a few can trade it.”

The absence of a comprehensive energy strategy, according to the unions, allows government officials to amend or cancel decisions and impose their own creative ideas and opinions, supported by hapless or devious associates.

“As a result, the EAC made large capital investments and was trapped in a vicious cycle of erratic decision-making by each administration, only to find itself accused today of expensive electricity and slated for privatisation and selling off,” the statement said.

Installing domestic PV systems should have been the policy for years, the unions said, and their cost should have been subsidised by the RES fund.

“Instead, huge sums are being squandered for lesser purposes or to carry out projects of dubious value, while domestic PV system installation is now affordable,” the statement concluded.

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