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Energy minister to outline plan for rooftop solar panels

Energy Minister Pongsak Ruktapongpisal plans to submit to the Energy Policy and Planning Office on Tuesday a proposal to promote electricity generation via solar panels installed on rooftops of houses, buildings, offices and factories.

For 2013-14, the ministry will propose a promotional electricity rate in the form of a feed tariff for 25 years for three groups of solar electricity producers. General residences will be entitled to support of Bt6.69 per unit; small and medium-sized enterprises (producing 10-250 megawatts of electricity) will get Bt6.55 per unit; and medium-to-large factories (producing more than 250MW) will get Bt6.16 per unit.

Pongsak expects this project to result in at least 200MW of electricity generated by rooftop solar panels. The impact of this support on the fuel tariff (Ft) rate will be about Bt0.50 per unit. In addition, there will be tax breaks, after the Energy Ministry consults with the Finance Ministry.

The Energy Ministry will brief Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on Tuesday afternoon on the rise in world oil prices after the political turmoil in Egypt. The ministry can still cap the retail diesel price at Bt30 a litre as the Oil Fund still shows a surplus of Bt4 billion. However, the crude-oil price is expected to rise to US$106-108 a barrel late this year on softening demand after the United States produces more oil and gas from shale. Moreover, the winter season in Europe typically reduces the demand for oil for transporting goods.

As for the electricity cost in the second half of this year, it is likely that the Ft will rise by about Bt2.80 per unit to reflect the higher costs caused by the weak baht and the higher price of natural gas. With support from the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand, the Ft rate could be maintained for a bit longer, Pongsak said.

Beginning on September 1, the price of liquefied petroleum gas for the household sector will begin rising by Bt0.50 per kilogram per month until the increases total Bt6 per kilo, which will result in the price of cooking gas rising from Bt18.13 per kilo to Bt24.82. Pongsak said this would not adversely affect low-income households that consume no more than 90 units of electricity, or about 7.5 million households without access to electricity, as they can still buy cooking gas (a maximum of 6kg per month) at the current price.




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