Renewable Energy Fund lacks transparency
I am referring to the recent uproar in social media and press media regarding the 1 percent Renewable Energy Fund being levied in the consumers' electricity bill, which will only happen if the monthly electricity is 300 kWh and above.
Renewable Energy Fund or better known as the RE Fund has been implemented since December 2011 after the enforcement of Renewable Energy Act 2011.
The aim of this RE Fund is to facilitate the development of Feed-In-Tariff mechanisms and also renewable energy sector in Malaysia in the future.
The 1 percent additional imposition to the tariff would be collected by TNB and disbursed to the Sustainable Energy Development Authority of Malaysia (Seda) from April 2012 onwards.
On top of that, the government has also pumped in RM300 million as initial RE fund for the implementation of Feed-In-Tariff mechanism in the country.
A quick visit to the Seda Malaysia's official website does not reveal any of the amounts of the fund collected.
As the RE fund involves public money, the amount of the fund collected must be made publicly available to all the consumers as they have all the right to know how the fund is being spent on.
In addition, the government should make use of the fund and come out with a plan to introduce incentives to promote the installation or the usage of renewable energy for the consumer especially domestic users.
At the same time, in order to ensure holistic governance and accountable administration of the RE Fund, civil society organisation or consumer association should be appointed as one of the members in the RE Fund Committee as it is now being chaired by the Chairman of Seda Malaysia and members from the government ministries, agencies and also TNB.
On top of that, clearly there is a lack of communication programmes in terms of awareness programmes to the public on the importance of renewable energy to the country's future energy security and also for the explanation of the implementation of the 1% RE Fund levy to the public.
Therefore, apart from sound implementation of the policy, consistent communication effort with all stakeholders will have to be another main pillar as the way forward in order to encourage the development of renewable energy in Malaysia.
FOON WENG LIAN is secretary-general of the Water and Energy Consumers Association of Malaysia.