Govt. electricity tariffs come under scrutiny

By Joyetter Feagaimaali’i-Luamanu 05 December 2017, 12:00AM

The General Manager of the Electric Power Corporation (E.P.C.), Tologata Tile Tuimaleali’ifano, has rejected claims that consumers are paying more for electricity due to tariffs imposed by the government.

He has also dismissed criticisms of the government’s solar power plans where critics of the government say this is responsible for increasing tariffs.

 “Six years ago the tariffs cost more than one tala,” Tologata told the Samoa Observer during an interview yesterday. 

“Right now it fluctuates between .70sene and .90sene, compared to the past. So the electricity tariffs are actually lower than before. And it will be four sene lower than it was last week.”

The General Manager said the solar power plan has helped to drive down prices. 

He explained that solar panels so far contribute 15 megawatts with the goal to increase it to 27 megawatts to meet the demand for the whole of Samoa.

 “There is a huge (positive) impact of solar,” he said.

“If we did not develop and invest in the solar panels, by now the electricity tariffs would much higher than what we are paying. This is especially as the price for diesel continues to increase.”

The General Manager reiterated that the government is keen on developing renewable energy sources to slowly eliminate the dependency on diesel. 

“Looking at the macroeconomic picture, we are leaning towards renewable sources. The reserves allocated for our diesel, can be utilised on other areas.

“This is one advantage of investing in our own renewable resources. We can take advantage of its benefits which includes much lower electricity tariffs.” 

Tologata also pointed out that renewable energy is not necessarily cheap. 

“It’s quite expensive; although this avenue should be cheap but the reality is that green energy is quite expensive. 

“That is the most difficult aspect we are facing is how expensive green energy and it’s not just us who are facing this issue, this is a global issue.

“While we are eager to have green energy, but on the other hand it is quite pricey.”

According to the C.E.O. they will re-launch E.P.C’s two solar power grids in Loto Samasoni and Fale-ole-fe’e on 20 December 2017. 

“The two power grids were damaged during the hurricane in 2012 and this will be a huge help as we will not depend so much on diesel,” he said. 

Last week, the Regulator, Lefaoalii Unutoa Auelua-Fonoti in her Determination and Order indicated a 4 sene/kWh reduction in the electricity tariff paid by consumers. 

 “The main part of the reduction is lower debt costs proposed by E.P.C. this financial year, with a small fall in the energy charge, which is updated on a monthly basis,” a statement issued by her Office said.

“The usage charge, which covers the costs incurred by E.P.C. in augmenting and maintaining its network, and running its operations, remains unchanged. 

“The decision is consistent with the findings of a number of stakeholder workshops that were convened by the Regulator and E.P.C. to canvass opinion on E.P.C.’s proposal.” 

The press statement issued indicated the Regulator will undertake a wider three-year tariff review next year, and in preparation has requested E.P.C. to develop a power system expansion plan as required under the Electricity Act 2010.

This is to ensure that new generation plant to be constructed in the next few years is cost effective and provides a least cost solution for customers. 

It has also requested E.P.C. to report regularly on its proposed capital implementation plan to ensure that its investment is commensurate with the funds provided by customers.

By Joyetter Feagaimaali’i-Luamanu 05 December 2017, 12:00AM

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