The Ministry of Energy tries to put a spoke in prosumers’ wheel – it wants to support the rich hobbyists

On the 11th March 2016 a meeting with Andrzej Piotrowski, a vice-minister of energy,  was held which was devoted to matter concerning the support model of prosumer power engineering which makes use of renewable energy sources. The meeting was attended by, among others, representatives and partners of the “Więcej niż energia” movement, including Polish Photovoltaics Association and Institute for Renewable Energy, as well as representatives of The Consumers’ Association, installation companies and the banking sector.

Minister Piotrowski discussed a proposal which states that for every kilowatt hour of energy produced in micro installation and given to grid, a prosumer would receive 0.7 kWh thereof. He also mentioned at the beginning of his speech that it is simply a proposal and he encouraged to send in opinions and suggestions which would be consequently released to the public. Clearance would follow an annual cycle. A rebate of 0.7 kWh for every given kWh would concern two variables in electricity bill: the cost of electricity and its distribution. The Ministry also proposed a definition of the prosumer namely that it would be a natural person that conducts economic activity which produces energy in micro installation. Generating income is not its purpose since, according to what representatives of the Ministry of Energy claim, this economic activity will be publicly subsidised, but primarily it will be acting pro bono  for the public.

“The representatives of the Ministry also maintain that they want to consult with all interested parties and hear their arguments,” said Anna Ogniewska, the Greenpeace expert on renewable energy. “We hope they will listen to the voice of the community as well, so that not only the richest would be able to afford to buy the equipment for production of renewable energy. The implementation of the mechanism that was presented during the meeting will lead to the situation when the possibility of investing in domestic micro generations will be exclusive to the more affluent citizens, contrary to the conception of developing “civic” energy sector. Only the introduction of appropriate feed-in-tariff scheme would equal citizens’ chances to purchase a micro installation and to have an access to clear energy.”

The mechanism of feed-in-tariff scheme will ensure fair payment for energy given to the grid so that investments in micro installations of renewable energy sources will not incur financial loss to households, but they will support an improvement of the energy security of the regions and stabilise energy supply in rural areas. This mechanism will contribute also to the improvement of the air quality. The amendment is to enable safe repaying of the investment those people who haven’t got enough money and who will pay for the installation by bank loan.

One of the few elements that the meeting attendees agreed on was the necessity to make the support system easy and stable, so that the investment in micro installation would pay for itself in no longer than ten years. It is the feed-in-tariff scheme, calculated to the period of repayment, that can ensure this to happen.

“When it comes to economics, it is difficult to address the Ministry’s proposal,” said Tobiasz Adamczewski, the WWF Poland expert on climate and energy. “No such calculations were introduced. I don’t think that the proposal was based on analysis of averaged cost of energy, which in fact is the only method allowing to provide estimate costs and benefits of the support system. Flash estimate indicates that the offered discount would be worth around 40 grosz gross for every kWh given to the grid, which is almost twice as small as feed-in-tariffs for the smallest installations covered by the government within the law on renewable energy sources. Such solution is only an offer for the rich people, who can afford to spend money without waiting for the repayment of the costs.”

Minister Piotrowski announced that he would put the information of the outcome of the meeting on the Ministry’s website and that he would adopt opinions from all parties interested. We hope that, similarly as in the case of the prosumer amendment, the voice of the citizens and community will be taken into account during works on the amendment of the act. Thus we cordially encourage all parties interested to engage in the activity for preserving the support system based on objectively estimated feed-in-tariffs by submitting opinions to the Ministry of Energy.

The representatives of “Więcej niż energia” movement submitted to the Ministry a call to preserve and optimise feed-in-tariffs in order to clear market data, as well as to include local authorities in the support system. The analysis, based on official data of central authorities, proving that the feed-in-tariff scheme would have a marginal effect on final consumers’ bills was also introduced during the meeting.