by Taylor Luck | Dec 04, 2012

AMMAN — Energy officials on Tuesday unveiled the country’s first feed-in power tariffs, paving the way for citizens to sell electricity back to the national grid.

In a press conference on Tuesday, the Electricity Regulatory Commission (ERC) announced that it has set buy-back rates at 120 fils per kilowatt/hour (kw/h) for electricity produced by solar power and 85 fils per kw/h by wind energy.

The National Electric Power Company currently sells electricity to consumers at an average rate of 88 fils per kw/h, less than half of its 188 fils generation costs.

Energy officials say the tariff is aimed at encouraging citizens to take advantage of recent energy ministry regulations allowing consumers with renewable energy projects to sell surplus electricity back to the national grid.

“With rising international oil prices, the government has been looking for ways to reduce electricity demand and costs,” ERC Chief Commissioner Mohammad Hamid told reporters.

“We found that the best way to achieve both is by encouraging Jordanians to go solar.”

Under the feed-in-tariff system, individuals and small and medium businesses will be able to sell electricity back to power companies when production exceeds consumption, with citizens standing to save between 32 and 70 per cent of their monthly bills.

According to a recent ERC study, households consuming between 300 and 500kw/h per month can cut their bill by as much as 70 per cent with the addition of one kw/h worth of solar panels, while those consuming between 750 and 1,000kw/h stand to save some 32 per cent.

Under the new feed-in tariff, citizens will be able to pay back the investment for the solar panels — an average cost of JD1,800 — over a five to seven-year period.

The ERC also encouraged the industrial sector to take advantage of the feed-in-tariff, noting that a large-scale factory can save as much as JD11,799 per year with the introduction of some 50 kilowatts in solar panels.

With the 120 fil per kw/h buy-back-rate, businesses would be able to recoup the up-front costs of purchasing 50 kilowatts in solar panels — an average JD89,000 cost — over a seven-year period, according to the ERC.

As part of the regulations, electricity providers will supply households with “smart meters” to track the amount of incoming and outgoing electricity from a household, with all gauges to be upgraded by the end of 2013, according to the commission.