Sat, May 23, 2009 - Page 12 News List

Solar energy firms lobby lawmakers on long-stalled bill

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Representatives of local listed solar energy businesses yesterday enhanced their lobbying efforts to push through a long-stalled bill on renewable energy development before the end of the current legislative session on June 16.

After meetings with Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) and Premier Liu Chao-shiuan (劉兆玄), the Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International Taiwan PV (photovoltaic) Committee (SEMI), an alliance of 13 companies, said in a press release that it wished to see the bill passed by June 16 and put into effect in November.

“We hope the government will not break its promise this time. When it subsidizes green industries, companies will increase their investment. Together, we can expand the domestic market, explore overseas business opportunities and create jobs,” SEMI president Terry Tsao (曹世綸) said.

Tsao was referring to a promise President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) made last month at the national conference on energy policy that the Executive Yuan would urge legislators to push for the passage of the renewable energy bill.

The bill has been stalled in the legislature for more than 10 years since the first version was introduced in 1997. The main reason it has not been passed is that lawmakers representing interest groups have haggled over the purchase prices of specific renewable sources.

During their closed-door meeting with Liu, the SEMI representatives suggested seven ways to help foster renewable energy, including introducing tax incentives on imports of “green” industry items, having banks offer financing for projects at low interest rates and revising state-owned Taiwan Power Co’s (Taipower, 台電) renewable energy premium purchase program.

Taipower, the operator of the nation’s electricity grid, offers NT$2 per kilowatt for renewable electricity, while the draft bill would establish a committee to determine the purchase price.

“The purchase price in Germany and Spain is between NT$14 and NT$19 per unit, but it is a mere NT$2 in Taiwan. We suggested an appropriate price would be between NT$10 and NT$12. At the very least it should be no less than NT$8,” Auria Solar Co (宇通) chairman Tsai Chin-yao (蔡進耀) said.

Using Germany as an example of green-energy development that is strongly supported by the government, Tsao said about 80 percent of the country’s photovoltaic companies are covered by a governmental financing program.

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