The energy ministry is preparing legal framework that will permit the establishment of energy cooperatives, enabling the operation of wind farms, bioenergy and photovoltaic farms for energy production with local and regional scope.
The ministry intends to soon deliver to Parliament a draft bill whose content will include start-up and operating regulations for energy cooperatives.
“The development of this democratic form of energy planning will also serve to change the country’s energy mix, as energy projects of mild environmental impact, such as renewable energy facilities, constantly gaining ground, are expected to be promoted on a local scale,” noted energy minister Giorgos Stathakis.
Internationally recognized energy cooperative practices have already been studied and assessed at the ministry, which will use its conclusions, along with EU directives, to shape a draft bill appropriate for local conditions.
A number of European countries, including Germany, Belgium and Denmark, have already acknowledged the usefulness and significance of local energy cooperatives.
The Greek version being promoted by the energy ministry will not restrict consumers to the role of client but also enable entrepreneurial participation in cooperatives.
Consumers will have a say in cooperative matters and their energy needs, while profit objectives will not necessarily serve as the main driving force behind these energy cooperatives.
Ultimately, energy costs are expected to be lowered through the utilization of various energy market tools, including net metering, virtual net metering and smart meters.
A RAE (Regulatory Authority for Energy) list of proposed revisions concerning the legal framework for net metering, both conventional and virtual, has been forwarded to the energy ministry.
This RAE proposal will serve as a basis for a ministerial decision to soon be delivered by the energy ministry, ending months of talks between the government, RAE and market officials, the objective being to make RES self-production investments a more attractive prospect.
According to energypress sources, the ministerial decision will include RAE proposals for the installation of tracker systems and net metering penetration on the islands.
The ministerial decision is not expected to include any changes to the RES-supporting ETMEAR surcharge.
The net metering plan enables electricity consumers who generate their own power from an eligible on-site facility and deliver it to local distribution facilities to offset the electric energy provided by the utility during an applicable billing period.
Virtual net metering links fragmented and scattered operations, such as farmer plots, to just one electricity power meter to offset the cost of electricity supplied by the power utility with electricity produced through PV self-production for the grid.
RAE’s approval of the legal revisions made is needed before the Environment and Energy Ministry proceeds with signing its ministerial decision.
The framework revisions made include an expansion of the net metering period from one to three years as well as permitting the installation of tracker systems for virtual net metering.
Virtual net metering links fragmented and scattered operations to just one electricity power meter to offset the cost of electricity supplied by the power utility with electricity produced through PV self-production for the grid.
Vocational groups such as farmers whose operations are spread over scattered plots of land stand to benefit from virtual net metering.
The prospect of wider virtual net metering availability for RES self-producers, beyond certain vocational groups, is now imminent following yesterday’s public consultation launch by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, of a revised ministerial decision concerning the plan.
Virtual net metering links fragmented and scattered operations to just one electricity meter to offset the cost of electricity supplied by the power utility with electricity produced by self production for the grid.
Government officials have acknowleged that some business ventures and services have no choice but to be scattered as a result of a lack of space at just the one location.
Until now, virtual net metering has been limited to farmers and certain private and public operations offering public benefits. But the upcoming revision to regulations will allow for wider application, including municipalities, municipal enterprises and educational institutions. The revisions will also allow such operations to install photovoltaic systems at appropriate spaces, even if located at a distance from where electricity production is consumed.
Though still relatively restrictive, the latest revision paves the way for prospective wider application of the virtual net metering system, market officials noted.
In the case of many enterprises, such as hotels on islands, virtual net metering offers the only viable option for utilization of RES self-production as installing RES systems at traditional buildings, even entire settlements, can be complicated, to say the least.
A draft bill to establish a new RES support framework, submitted to parliament for ratification this week, will offer virtual net metering, thereby fulfilling a long-standing request by RES and other power producers.
Virtual net metering will allow vocational groups offering publically beneficial work, such as educational institutions, farmers and municipalities, to link fragmented and scattered operations and bases to just one electricity meter and offset the cost of electricity supplied to them by the power utility with electricity produced by their own power production systems for the grid.
Under exisiting net metering regulations, separate power meters are needed for each specific location.
Besides PV and small wind-energy facilities, virtual net metering will also be available for operations installed with small hydropower stations and combined heat and power (CHP) producers.
A virtual net metering plan offering energy cost savings will be introduced immediately after the Orthodox Easter break, when a ministerial decision is expected to be signed to bring the measure into effect, initially for farmers, sources have informed energypress.
In talks with agitated local farmers a couple of months ago, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras had promised to offer the agricultural sector virtual net metering as a tool to help reduce energy costs. At the time, numerous farmers were involved in extensive protests, which included road blocks around the country, to protest against expected tax and social security contribution increases.
Besides the agricultural sector, other categories associated with public services will also be given the green light for virtual net metering, such as schools and other educational institutions, the sources noted.
Many farmers work fragmented plots of land scattered in different areas. Virtual net metering will allow for all land masses cultivated by each farmer to be linked to just one electricity meter. By installing photovoltaic systems for self-produced electricity, each farmer will – through virtual net metering – be able to offset the electricity used when pumping water for fields.
Net metering enables electricity consumers who generate their own power from an eligible on-site facility and deliver it to local distribution facilities to offset the electric energy provided by the utility during an applicable billing period.
Sources said the virtual net metering plan will be made widely available for all consumer categories in a second stage to follow.
For some time now, photovoltaic sector officials have pushed for the virtual net metering plan’s implementation, noting it will offer energy cost-cutting solutions for various professional categories, including hotels.