Sat, Dec 25, 2010 - Page 2 News List

Demonstrators protest solar power about-face

GREEN PROTESTORS:The head of an industry association said the policy reversal betrayed the trust of the people and undermined the development of green energy

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff Reporter

A protester kicks a solar panel during a protest outside the Executive Yuan in Taipei yesterday in which photovoltaic system operators complained of constant government delays and changes to procedures for setting up photovoltaic systems equipment. Demonstrators said the delays have prohibited them from completing their projects on time.

PHOTO: CNA

Dozens of solar power generation systems outfitters yesterday staged a protest outside the Executive Yuan in Taipei, petitioning for the government to take action to help them, following a recent reversal in procurement policy on solar power, which they will say will undermine the development of renewable energy.

Led by Life Lai (賴增華), head of the Solar Power Generation System Association, the protesters smashed a solar panel to express their anger over the policy announced on Friday last week, that the wholesale price to be paid for power generated by solar projects will be decided on the date investors’ solar power facilities are completed.

Previously, the wholesale price was decided on the date when the contract was signed.

The announcement came out of the blue as the Bureau of Energy under the Ministry of Economic Affairs reassured solar energy investors in October that the wholesale price determined on the date when the contract was signed would remain unchanged for 20 years.

According to the bureau, in light of the decreasing cost of solar equipment, state-owned Taiwan Power Co (Taipower) will lower its solar power procurement price next year to NT$9.6 per million kilowatts, from between NT$11 and NT$13 per million kilowatt this year.

The bureau said the new purchase price will be applied to solar projects that have not been completed by the end of this year, regardless of any contracts signed.

Cheng Po-wen (鄭博文), an investor, said the new policy means it will take him four more years to recover the cost of his investment of NT$1.28 million (US$43,100).

To compensate them for losses caused by the policy reversal, investors demanded the government grant solar investors a grace period of 30 to 60 days with regards the current purchase price.

On Monday, Pintung County Commissioner Tsao Chi-hung (曹啟鴻) also lashed out at the policy change as about 100 land owners whose farms were severely damaged by Typhoon Morakot last year decided to install solar panels at his encouragement.

The ministry has said the policy change was aimed at preventing rent-seeking behavior as some investors purposely delayed investments after contracts were signed.

“The accusation was not true, and the government should not treat its people like thieves,” Lai said.

It was not investors’ rent--seeking that resulted in procrastination, but the complicated application procedures they had to wade through in complying with rules on the government purchase of solar power, Lai said.

“The policy reversal not only betrayed the trust of the people but has also adversely affected the development of green energy,” Lai said

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