Sathosa Ad Final Eng 1
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Dec 31, 2016

Net plus solar power system for low income earners

Sri Lanka is to pay low income power users by providing rooftop solar panels, going beyond the current system of net metering where excess power will be bought by the state-run Ceylon Electricity Board through 20-year contracts.

Under this net plus system, there will be no link between power generated and used. The customer will be paid for all excess power supplied to the grid. He will then pay at the existing tariffs for all power consumed.

The cost of producing a unit of electricity under the ‘net plus’ is around Rs.4.00. The total electricity generation from the solar rooftop system would be purchased by the CEB at the rate of Rs.22 per unit. The bill for electricity consumption would be paid to the utility as usual.

The Ministry of Power and Renewable Energy has made a request from solar power companies to install roof top solar panels at houses of low income earners and collect money from the CEB for all excess power supplied to the grid for certain period to recover their costs while earning some profits.

These companies can make some payment for low income owners from their profits under this scheme, Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya said.

The ‘net plus’ will be launched From Elahera Bakamuna area following the second anniversary of the induction of the president in high office on January 8, he disclosed.

At the moment, Sri Lanka's Ceylon Electricity Board has a 'net metering ' system where power produced by rooftop solar panels are deducted from the total bill owed to the CEB.
Any excess power, however, is not settled in cash but is carried forward for up to 10 years.

The cabinet of ministers has approved a proposal to pay users for excess power generated under a 20-year contract.

Under a 'net accounting' system, customers with solar panels will be paid Rs22.00 per unit during the first 7 years for excess power supplied to the grid. From year 8, they will be paid Rs15.50 per unit.However, if the customer draws power from the grid, he will be charged on the existing tariff.
The current 'net metering' system is targeted at high-user customers. The regulator has imposed a Rs 45 charge per kiloWatt hour, far in excess of the cost on larger customers who consume more than 180 units, making it viable for solar power companies to sell their products to power customers.

The high tariff - perhaps the highest in the world - was imposed supposedly to cross subsidize small users who were sold power below cost. But instead of going to the utility, the money has flowed to solar power companies who supplied the systems through net metering.

The CEB now has to produce peak power in the night to supply households, while getting power in the daytime for which it has to pay. About 30MW of such rooftop capacity has now been installed.

The Ministry of Power and Renewable Energy has launched this new community based power generation project titled 'Soorya Bala Sangramaya' (Battle for Solar Energy) in collaboration with Sri Lanka Sustainable Energy Authority (SLSEA), Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) and Lanka Electricity Company (Private) Limited (LECO) to promote the setting up of small solar power plants on the rooftops of households, religious places, hotels, commercial establishments and industries.

It is expected to add 200 MW of solar electricity to the national grid by 2020 and 1000 MW by 2025 through this intervention.

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