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Renewable Energy Charge on Electricity Increased by Parliament

The House of Representatives has unanimously passed an increase on a charge for renewable energy sources for electricity, raising it from 0.44 cents per kilowatt hour to 0.50 cents per kilowatt hour.

The law is intended to encourage the use of renewables by the Electricity Authority and to contribute to a fund providing grants for photovoltaic projects that would offer clean energy. SEAPEK has been waiting seven months for parliament to adopt new grants for projects to accelerate the use of photovoltaic systems to partially meet the island's power needs, said the association for renewable energy in a statement.

After the tragic and deadly explosion next to the island's main power plant at Vassiliko, former minister of commerce Antonis Paschalides promised SEAPEK that their projects would receive fast-track treatment so that they could help to supply some of the missing power.

That never materialised and SEAPEK has called for an immediate adoption of a budget for grants without any increases in charges for wind power or on Electricity Authority of Cyprus accounts. They also call for an immediate approval for all applications for photovoltaic systems presented in 2010 with total capacity of 27 MW and an announcement for new applications for residential and small commercial photovoltaic systems with a total capacity of 5MW as already decided by the government.

SEAPEK said it was repeating for the umpteenth time that industrial plants should be given permission to place solar panels on their roofs and create large photovoltaic parks.

In related news, a promised bill to reduce VAT to 8 percent from 17 percent on electricity has not made an appearance after being tabled by DISY last week, possibly due to resistance from the Council of Ministers. The government said it would not accept lowering VAT because it needs money to 'fill up the black holes' in the state's revenues.

According to official statistics, the cost of electricity has rose by 10 percent in January 2012, compared to the same month in 2011. Consumers belonging to the group End Unfair Electricity Authority of Cyprus Monopoly are also reporting a mysterious increase in consumption which has doubled or tripled the price of their bills compared to the first two months of last year.

Yesterday, the Cyprus Energy Regulatory Authority (CERA) said that consumers have the right to complain about possible faults in writing and if the EAC does not take care of them in good time, they will be fined. One possible source of the mysterious increase in consumption, even in homes that are closed up and with no one home, could be some type of fault in the electricity distribution system. One way to test for this is for the EAC to monitor the voltage travelling from the distribution system to someone's home for 24 hours. This can be done but has to be applied for in writing to the EAC.

The EAC said it make efforts to reduce the prices, including cutting its staff costs by 10 percent. This has drawn an angry protest from the scientific union of the electricity authority, which has decided not to work overtime as of Monday, March 19th, say sources within the authority.

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