Renewable energy producers in Sabah not 'FiT' yet

PUTRAJAYA: RENEWABLE energy (RE) producers in Sabah, who are mostly biomass and biogas plant operators at palm oil mills, will not enjoy the 32 sen per kilowatt per hour (kWh) under the feed-in tariff (FiT).

RE producers in Sabah will only be paid the rates accorded under Tenaga Nasional Bhd's (TNB) Small Renewable Energy Projects, according to a statement by Sustainable Energy Development Authority (Seda).

This means oil palm biomass and biogas plant operators there will only be paid 21 sen per kWh instead of the promised 32 sen per kWh under FiT.

Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Datuk Seri Peter Chin had reportedly said heavy power users in Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah, who use more than 350kWh or whose monthly bills exceed RM77, are to start paying the one per cent RE levy this month.

However, Seda, the implementing agency under Chin's ministry, said on Tuesday TNB will collect the RE levy only from consumers in Peninsular Malaysia. This is because there has yet to be a gazette to this effect in Sabah.

The regulator said RE producers in Sabah will only be eligible for FiT when the one per cent RE levy is collected by Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd, a 70 per cent-subsidiary of TNB, from heavy power users in Sabah.

Sarawak, however, is exempted from the RE levy because under the Renewable Energy Act 2010, the FiT is only applicable to Sabah and Peninsular Malaysia.

FiT essentially guarantees RE producers a premium selling price over that generated from depleting and finite sources such as oil, gas and coal.

Power generated from sustainable sources that benefits from FiT includes that of oil palm biomass, biogas, small hydro and solar.

Meanwhile, RE producers will not automatically receive payment under the FiT from December this year. This is because RE producers need to go online and bid for the quota and the relevant FiT rate. 

The FiT rate differs for varying RE technologies and installed capacities. RE producers have to apply for licence from Seda via http://seda.gov.my/. Online application is meant to facilitate quota allocation on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Within a week of bidding, Seda announced that applications for the FiT allocation under the categories of biomass and solar projects were fully taken up.

Yesterday, it clarified that some of these applications were incomplete and disqualified. Therefore, the portion of FiT allocation applied for will be released for online bidding again today, at 10am.

Seda has limited individual solar energy producers to 12kWh each. Multiple applications for the same installed site is also not allowed. The new measures are meant to encourage more people to install solar panels on their roof tops and sell back excess energy to TNB.

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