Differences in the interpretation of the regulatory framework at the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Mining and Energy led to higher bills and created confusion among the first prosumers in Serbia, but also among those who intend to install solar panels.It could jeopardize the implementation of an excellent idea, so the two sides need to sit down as soon as possible and find a way out. There are also many questions about what prosumers actually pay for and what they will pay in the coming months.
The first bills received by prosumers were certainly not reduced as much as they or the Ministry of Mining and Energy expected. State-owned power utility Elektroprivreda Srbije (EPS) followed the interpretation of the Ministry of Finance on the calculation, so the bills were reduced by about 30%. However, if EPS has implemented the Decree on the Criteria, Conditions, and the Method of Billing between Prosumers and Suppliers, proposed by the Ministry of Mining and Energy and adopted by the Government of Serbia, the bills would have been lowered by 50%.
The Ministry of Mining and Energy told Balkan Green Energy News that the Ministry of Finance gave its consent for the adoption of the decree, which is a regular procedure, but that it later refused to act in line with it and an issued an opposite opinion to EPS. The Ministry of Finance failed to comment.
Ministry of Energy: The Ministry of Finance agreed to back the decree, but afterwards it changed its mind
EPS has requested an opinion on the basis of which it then made the calculation. The company wanted interpretation because the decree defines the calculation of the value-added tax (VAT), excise duty and fees differently than in the laws that regulate the issues.
Ministry of Finance cited three laws – on fees for the use of public goods, VAT, and excise duties, while the Ministry of Mining and Energy defended its position by pointing to the decree.
Two different angles: calculation on the basis of the taken energy or on the basis of the energy consumed
The essence of the issue is that the Ministry of Finance believes VAT, excise duty, and fees for privileged energy producers and energy efficiency must be paid on the energy taken (withdrawn) from EPS’s grid. However, the Ministry of Mining and Energy believes that the items should be calculated on the energy that the prosumer consumes, meaning the difference between the electricity the prosumer delivered to EPS and the electricity it withdrew from EPS.
If the position of the Ministry of Finance is applied to the prosumer’s bill, which before the installation of solar panels was about RSD 2,500 (EUR 21), the prosumer will have to pay about RSD 1,700 (EUR 14.5), which is a decrease of 30%. According to the position of the Ministry of Mining and Energy, the bill would amount to about RSD 1,300 (EUR 11), or almost a 50% decrease.
There is no information on when the problem could be solved
Reducing bills is important to motivate consumers to become prosumers. A rooftop solar power plant costs about EUR 1,000 per kilowatt, and households usually install systems of 5-10 kW. The investment would pay off sooner if the bill is reduced by 30% instead of 50%.
Asked how and when the problem will be solved, the Ministry of Mining and Energy answered it would continue to seek the best solution for prosumers in dialogue with the Ministry of Finance. The World Bank is preparing an analysis of Serbia’s regulatory framework for prosumers to propose how the bill could be reduced, the Ministry of Mining and Energy told Balkan Green Energy News.