Rajiv: Don’t exempt Sabah from NEM 3.0, be inclusive

IT is highly irresponsible for the Government to exclude Sabah from the Net Energy Metering (NEM 3.0) policy for solar panel installations which would otherwise help the state dwellers and economic issues.

Rajiv Rishyakaran

“It’s a shame that the Water, Land and Natural Resources Ministry (Ketsa) has decided to exclude Sabah from the NEM 3.0 programme for solar installations – be it for residential or commercial/industrial – as per their recent announcement,” former Sustainable Energy Development Authority (Seda) board member Rajiv Rishyakaran told FocusM.

Last month, Ketsa minister Datuk Shamsul Anuar Nasarah announced the NEM 3.0 programme which is aimed at providing an opportunity for more users to install the solar photovoltaic (PV) systems on the roofs of their respective buildings for electricity bill reduction.

He said that NEM 3.0 would offer a quota of 500 megawatts (MW) from 2021 to 2023 in Peninsula Malaysia.

“The Government hopes that the implementation of NEM 3.0 will enable more Malaysians, government agencies, houses of worship as well as companies to be involved in the country’s renewable energy agenda.

“At the same time, it will also help reduce electricity bills to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 pandemic,” he was reported saying then.

Elaborating, Rajiv said NEM 3.0 would allow solar panel owners to sell excess energy during sunlight hours to the grid to offset the electrical consumption at night.

This policy, he added, makes solar panel installation without battery financially viable and attractive, thus spurring more than RM2 bil worth of installations on rooftops during Pakatan Harapan’s administration.

“Following a dialogue in Kota Kinabalu in 2019 with residents and industry players, SEDA and the then Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister Yeo Bee Yin announced that the NEM programme would be expanded to Sabah in the interest of fairness.

“Marginalising Sabah is not right and the Umno minister heading Ketsa should revise his recent statement to ensure that Sabahans installing solar panels can also benefit for the NEM 3.0 incentives, the same way as those in the Peninsula Malaysia,” said the Bukit Gasing state assemblyman.

Sabah, Sarawak have unique issues

Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) central committee member Sharan Raj echoed Rajiv’s sentiments, saying that the programme should be extended throughout Malaysia.

However, the PSM leader pointed out that there were certain issues which are unique to both Sabah and Sarawak that need addressing.

Elaborating, Sharan said that for Sarawak, there was little incentive for Sarawakians to embark on solar energy project as the electricity tariff in the state is one of the cheapest in the region.

Sharan Raj

“As of 2018, about 75% of Sarawak’s electricity was generated using hydropower, offering the lowest unsubsidised electricity tariff in the region for both industrial and household use,” he pointed out.

“Therefore, Sarawak’s electricity tariff is quite immune to the fluctuation of fossil fuel prices. So, there is little incentive for them to embark on solar power projects,” he said.

On Sabah, Sharan said that the Government should first fix the state’s poor electricity transmission and distribution system before including it in the NEM 3.0 programme.

“The first thing about Sabah is that we need to fix its weak power grid. The state suffers frequent power outages due to this.

“If you don’t fix the power grid, can you imagine what a surge of power supply under NEM 3.0 would do to its system? It will do more harm than good to the people there,” he opined.

However, Sharan pointed out the state government is doing its best to fix the matter, adding that Sabah’s power grid problem is slated to be resolved by 2023.

“After 2023, then the Federal Government can include Sabah in the NEM programme. For now, let’s be cautious and start small with Sabah,” he remarked.

In 2019, former Minister Yeo unveiled the NEM 2.0 policy to diversify the nation’s electricity generation and provide a more transparent power generation module for both the industry and consumers.

Under the policy, Malaysia was poised to achieve 20% electricity supply from renewable energy (RE) source, particularly in solar-generated form, by 2025. – Jan 14, 2021.

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