Samoa Minister Says The Gov Will Fight For Cheaper Electricity In Dispute With Singapore-Based Power Provider

Minister claims interference by Mother Company of energy provider in dispute and channels of communication

By Deidre Tautua

APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, March 19, 2017) – The Minister of Works, Transport and Infrastructure, Papali’i Niko Lee Hang, says it is important for the government to stand up to the threat by First Solar.

The Singapore-based company has threatened the government over a dispute in the treatment of V.A.G.S.T in the existing Power Purchase Agreement (P.P.A.).

In a letter, it has accused the Electric Power Corporation (E.P.C), and the Office of the Regulator (O.O.T.R.) over a proposal to enforce new feed-in-tariff (FiT) regulations, violating an agreement they had already signed.

It threatened formal action against the government.

But Papali’i told the Sunday Samoan the government cannot allow First Solar to have its way.

“If we give in to what they are saying, this means the electricity will become so expensive for the people of the country,” Papali’i said.

The Minister supported Prime Minister Tuilaepa in saying that First Solar should not be writing to the government. 

He said the P.P.A was signed between Solar for Samoa (SfS) and E.P.C.

“Solar for Samoa deals with the E.P.C and not the Mother Company (First Solar) who is now interfering,” he said.

“I also think there is no room for them to come and try to resolve this issue between E.P.C and Solar for Samoa. We are trying to resolve by trying to clarify the details of the agreement.”

The Minister said First Solar should deal with SfS instead of approaching the government.

“First Solar is the mother company which the Solar for Samoa relies on and so SfS has an agreement with us here.

 “And so what we are trying to clarify here is that the deal was done between Solar for Samoa and E.P.C, not First Solar."

“So our argument is First Solar shouldn’t have made comments like this because SfS is here to address any issues between SfS and E.P.C but not them because we didn’t have a contract with them."

“So what the E.P.C, the O.O.T.R. and the SfS are trying to do is to address all these issues and come up with ways that the prize will be acceptable because at the moment if the V.A.G.S.T is included, it’s too expensive for us.”

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