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Epra defends draft solar regulations after criticism

By Fredrick Obura | December 1st 2020 at 11:30:59 GMT +0300

Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority Director General Pavel Oimeke (PHOTO: FILE)

NAIROBI, KENYA: The Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (EPRA) on Tuesday stood by draft Energy Regulations after wide criticism from members of the public.

Kenyans read mischief in the new regulations with many suggesting that the new measures would curtail growth in the solar industry. Many Kenyans are adopting solar as an alternative source of energy creating competition to traditional sources.

The increase in the use of solar energy is seen in the growth and amount generated and fed into the national electricity grid, including from the State-owned Garissa Solar Plant.

Industries are also adopting grid-tied systems, even as more households rely on solar home systems for lighting and water heating needs. Key sectors such as agriculture have also taken up systems such as solar water pumping to reduce their power bills.

The public criticism on the new draft regulations centered on the proposed licensee fees, penalties, educational and professional qualifications of proposed licensee clusters contained in the draft regulations.

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The proposed regulations for instance have broadened the licences issued to technicians working in the industry. Previously, the regulator licensed technicians in three levels – Class T1, T2, and T3.

To qualify to hold a class T3 licence, a technician is required to hold a Bachelor of Degree in Electrical Engineering or a similar qualification including a Higher National Diploma.

In the proposed regime, Epra has expanded the licences into four classes - Solar PV Workers 1 (SPW1), SPW2, SPW3 and SPW4.

“The scope of solar PV technician licences Class T1 and Class T2 are limiting and thus need to be reviewed in line with the current market requirements. This is in addition to expanding the scope of the company licences to cover more aspects of the solar PV value chain,” said Epra.

On Monday the regulator (EPRA) stated in a statement that the proposed laws are a revision of the Energy (Solar Photovoltaic Systems) Regulations, 2012 aimed at consolidating and improving gains in the Solar industry.

It added that the review has been prompted by the need to align the regulations to the 2010 Constitution, the Energy Act 2019, and address emerging trends in the industry.

“The review of the 2012 Regulations has been a rigorous process that began in 2018 which involved views collection from stakeholders,” said Pavel Oimeke Epra Director General adding that the of the draft is to enforce quality standards of solar systems and protect consumers against substandard solar systems.

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