Solar panel leasing program expands

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Solar panel leasing program expands

Starting this year, apartment building dwellers can lighten their electricity bills by leasing solar panels from the government.

Last year, solar panel leasing was available only for single-family residences.

According to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy on Tuesday, panels of various capacities are available for households of different power consumption on seven-year contracts.

Households with monthly electricity consumption of 350 kilowatt-hours a month or more can apply for the lease project.

Apartment complexes can apply for the program as long as all households consent.

On the minimum seven-year contract, the lease fee cannot be more than 7,600 won ($6.77) per household per month, the amount the government says can be saved with solar.

If an apartment building extends the lease, the monthly lease fee for each household could be as low as 1,200 won.

The panel lease initiative is part of the ministry’s strategy to spread solar power and support the solar industry.

In the past, the government offered lump-sum subsidies toward the purchase of solar panels. Few households participated due to the steep cost of panels.

So starting last year, the government decided to simply connect households to solar panel companies that agreed to lease out and maintain panels.

About 2,000 residents of single-family houses participated in the project to generate a total of 7.2 gigawatt-hours of electricity throughout last year, said the Energy Ministry. This saved about 226 million won, or an average of 113,000 won per household.

By expanding the project to apartment dwellers, the government hopes to boost the number of solar panel leasing households by as much as 5,000 by end of this year and up to 25,000 by 2017.

BY KIM JI-YOON [kim.jiyoon@joongang.co.kr]
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