Public hearings set for new community scheme

Public hearings set for new community scheme

The Energy Ministry plans to hold public hearings for stakeholders to finalise the details and conditions of community-owned power projects under the "Energy for All" scheme within the next couple of months.

The scheme focuses on power generation from renewable resources: solar, biomass, biogas and waste.

Energy Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong said the government will listen to the opinions of stakeholders in the private sector, the three state utilities, the Stock Exchange of Thailand, the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives, renewable power operators and local communities.

"These are focus groups for brainstorming because the ministry wants to hear about their experiences, both successes and failures," he said.

"The scheme should benefit the country's power sector."

Mr Sontirat said the scheme is scheduled to begin in December. The tentative business model is a joint venture between private companies and communities.

Each company can benefit from the power generation system, while each community can sell agricultural waste and operate power generation, he said.

There will be six pilot projects across the country using a variety of renewable resources.

"One benefit of this scheme is it reduces the country's air pollution problem, which recurs every year," said Mr Sontirat.

"Refuse from agricultural processes causes smog as rice, sugar cane, cassava and corn are burnt in open air."

The tentative financing of the Energy for All scheme will be supported by the Energy Conservation Fund.

In related news, Mr Sontirat announced the launch of additional incentives to increase the number of electrical vehicles (EVs) on local roads by December. The move is in line with Industry Minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit's policy to make Thailand an EV production hub.

In 2017-18, the Board of Investment launched privileges such as a corporate tax exemption for up to eight years and waiving customs duties on new machinery for car and components manufacturers that participate in the EV scheme.

Nine car companies are availing the privileges: Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, SAIC Motor-CP, FOMM and Mitsubishi.

"The additional incentives will encourage car and components manufacturers as well as local motorists to purchase EVs," said Mr Sontirat.

"Many companies in the EV segment will be invited to discuss the possibility of launching additional incentives for investors and buyers."

New incentives will be effective during 2020-24, he said. Other ministries will be invited to talk to the Finance and Industry ministries to outline additional incentives, said Mr Sontirat.

He said the government expects to increase the EV population to 1.2 million units on roads by 2036, but this target will be revised because of technological changes, motorist responses and 5G networks.


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