Micro-producers of electricity in Estonia who until now have been able to sell their excess renewables output to state-owned generator Eesti Energia have recently found out that the party is now over, and they may even have to pay the company to take on their electricity, daily Postimees reports (link in Estonian).
Dajana Tiitsaar, head of Eesti Energia's domestic market, told Postimees' economy portal that due to their rapid growth, at least of those using solar panels, micro-producers of electricity will themselves have to pay for Eesti Energia to take on any excess electricity at times of low demand and high renewable supply – ie. when the Nord Pool exchange price of electricity falls below the cost of re-selling own-generated electricity to the grid.
A backlash on social media about this development, which followed the issuing of new contracts, has reached Eesti Energia, and the company advises micro-producers in such scenarios to store their excess electricity for their own later use, or to sell to the grid at a later date
The new contracts upped the buyback price it would cost for Eesti Energia to take on micro-producers' electricity supply, to €0.99 per Kwh (from €0.2-€0.5 per Kwh), on the grounds (also contested by some producers) that the figure had remained static for several years, even as overall electricity prices have risen manifold during that time – the issue only affects existing customers, who will get the same rate offered to new customers joining Eesti Energia since September last year
Eesti Energia has put back to mid-February the deadline for opting-out of the scheme, an option which effect giving their own-generated electricity for free (ie. not paying Eesti Energia anything when the stock market price is low, but not receive payment from Eesti Energia when the price is higher), while a Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications spokesperson said that there are always other suppliers of electricity which micro-producers can sell their output to, if they are not happy with Eesti Energia.
The original Postimees piece (in Estonian) is here.
Thousands of micro-producers have signed up to supply electricity to the national grid, over the past five or so years, and they make up the bulk of the country's over 7,000 private producers of electricity.
While small wind turbines are one option, the boom has mostly involved solar panel installation – which given Estonia's long daylight hours in the summer months makes economic sense, along with the incentives hooking up to the grid seemed to offer.
Depending on the location, actually connecting to the grid could incur extra costs, while the picture is also complicated by the fact that while Eesti Energia is both the largest energy generator and supplier of electricity to consumers, the grid itself is the responsibility of Elektrilevi, a subsidiary of the same group, as well as another state firm, Elering, plus, depending on the location again, some other concerns.
There are more than a dozen other suppliers of electricity in addition to Eesti Energia, hooked up to the Elekrilevi grid, including Alexela and Eesti Gaas.
Editor: Andrew Whyte