Green groups demand CLP agree to HK$300m subsidy proposal

Green groups ask electricity supplier to share profits with consumers so they can ditch energy-hungry appliances and save power

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 13 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 13 August, 2013, 9:57am

Green groups are calling on electricity supplier CLP Power to dole out HK$300 million in subsidies each year for the next five years to help consumers reduce their energy usage by 1 per cent.

The money, which could be drawn from company profits, would subsidise customers in buying energy-efficient household appliances as well as residential committees in investing in green buildings and installations, they said.

The company paid HK$660 million in dividends last year, so requesting they take a small percentage of profits to give back to society for the environment is reasonable
Greenpeace campaigner Prentice Koo Wai-muk

Members of 11 environmental, welfare and political groups gathered yesterday to demand a response from CLP Power as it announced its interim results.

Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth said they had proposed the "1 per cent" initiative - equivalent to roughly 300 million kilowatt-hours in electricity savings - to CLP Power earlier this year, but had not got any meaningful response. "CLP has been giving us a lot of nonsense responses. Until now, we don't know whether they think our proposed target is too high, too low or acceptable," senior Greenpeace campaigner Prentice Koo Wai-muk said.

"Our approach is to take a strong stance and make CLP adopt our proposal."

Koo said the subsidies should not affect electricity bills as the money would come from the firm's profits, not tariffs: "The company paid HK$660 million in dividends last year, so requesting they take a small percentage of profits to give back to society for the environment is reasonable."

Francis Yeung, senior environmental affairs officer at Friends of the Earth, said the figure of HK$300 million was based on two government energy-saving schemes, the Buildings Energy Efficiency Ordinance in 2009 and the Demand Side Management Agreement in 2000.

Wong Yun-tat, of the Neighbourhood and Workers' Service Centre, said the subsidies would help low-income families ditch their old energy-guzzling appliances for efficient equipment.

"Some low-income households cannot use their air conditioners because they are old, energy-consuming and costly in terms of bills," Wong said.

CLP Power, as well as Hongkong Electric, has a scheme-of-control deal with the government that regulates profits. The deals will expire in 2018 and a recent interim review has given green groups impetus for protest. CLP Power yesterday posted a first-half rise in net profits of 12.2 per cent to HK$3.77 billion year on year, and a 12 per cent rise in first-half revenues to HK$51.71 billion.

Last night, the company said it was committed to energy efficiency and conservation, but "costs and benefits involved in the implementation of energy-saving programmes should be balanced in a practical manner".

"Hong Kong's unique market environment and constraints such as weather conditions, economic conditions and population growth also need to be taken into consideration," it said.