Regulations, policy and tariff orders have been issued by the respective states driven by their own specific requirements. While implementation takes place in the States, there is a need for some nation- wide uniformity.
Net Metering Policy: Regulations, policy and tariff orders have been issued by the respective states driven by their own specific requirements. While implementation takes place in the States, there is a need for some nation-wide uniformity, says V K Gupta, Chief Manager – Renewables, ICA India, Mumbai.
Aconsumer pays for electricity (power imported from the distribution licensee) consumed. After installation of solar roof-top systems, it is expected that the consumer will meet all or part of his electricity requirements from such systems and also feed surplus power, if any, into the grid (export). Net metering involves summation of import/export of power. Hence, the need to have regulations, policy and tariff order for such power exchange.
The availability of a net metering policy is useful to all stakeholders and most importantly,
A. Electricity consumers: Policy is expected to help consumers gainfully utilise their roof-top space with benefits viz., One - Reduce dependence on distribution licensee to the extent possible depending on the size of the solar roof-top system installed; Two – Reduce their electricity bills due to less import and export of surplus electrical units, if any
B. Distribution licensees: Policy is expected to help distribution licensees import renewable power to meet their RPO obligations and reduce the
demand-supply gap during peak power
C. Solar industry: Manufacturers of solar panels, inverters, cables etc in the solar industry will benefit from increased installations
D. National: Due to enhanced solar installations a positive impact is expected on climate change through a reduction in carbon emissions. Various states have come up with the necessary regulations around key issues including applicability, eligible consumer and individual plant capacity, interconnection with grid, wheeling and cross-subsidy charge, metering arrangement etc. A net metering policy of the respective State: i) Defines eligible consumers, distribution licensee
and capacity of systems ii) Provides guidelines for installation of solar roof
top systems iii) Clarifies steps for measurement of import and
export of electricity iv) Clarifies implication of RPO and eligibility of REC v) Defines settlement period and method of settle
ment of unadjusted electrical units.
Similarly, the extent of exemptions in wheeling and cross subsidy charges vary from state to state. Therefore, nationally we need to effect minimum changes to make these available regulations, policies and tariff orders as uniform as possible keeping in mind the scope for minimal specific variations for states as well.
Brief on Maharashtra State Renewable Energy Policy
The State government has come out with a renewable energy policy for Maharashtra in June/July 2015 with a focus to source 14400 MW of power from renewable energy sources within the next five years. This target of 14400 MW includes 5000 MW of wind power, 7500 MW of solar power and the balance is from small hydel and biomass.
MAHAGENCO, the state generation utility, is expected to install 2500 MW of ground-based solar projects and 5000 MW of ground-based solar projects with a minimum size of 1 MW (1000 KW) is expected to be put up by different entities on a PPA basis.
Some key aspects of the state’s net metering policy are: a. Solar roof-top systems can be installed by any power consumer in his premises in order to meet all or a part of his electricity requirements that are subject to the following limits:
For single phase 230 V systems – 8 KW or 40 Amperes
For three phase 440 systems – up to 187 KVA in municipal limits and up to 100 KVA beyond municipal limits
For HT 11 KV systems – above 187 KVA (within Mumbai limits) and above 100 KVA (other areas) but less than 1000 KVA b. Capacity of solar roof-top system shall not exceed the contract demand (in KVA) or the sanctioned load (in KW) of the consumer. c. Priority will be given to solar roof-top installations already installed before announcement of the policy and regulations. d. Consumer and distribution licensee will enter into a 20-year agreement which could be terminated by either side with 30 days’ notice. e. A net meter or a combination of meters capable of recording both import and export of electricity shall be procured, tested and installed by the distribution licensee as per regulations specified by CEA and follow the electricity code. The consumer can also procure the net meter depending upon circumstances but the testing and installation will be done by the distribution licensee. f. Solar energy under this net metering arrangement will not be eligible for renewable energy certificates. g. Solar energy under this net metering arrangement will qualify to be used to meet solar renewable purchase obligations (RPOs) of the consumer (if he is an obligated entity) for which he is expected to install a solar generation meter at his own cost. h. Solar energy under this net metering arrangement will qualify to be used to meet solar renewable purchase obligations (RPOs) of the distribution licensee (if the consumer is not an obligated entity and permits the distribution licensee) for which the distribution licensee is expected to install a solar generation meter at its own cost. i. Distribution licensee will ensure that interconnection of roof-top solar systems with its network conforms to all the specifications and standards. j. Cumulative capacity of all the solar rooftop systems connected to the distribution transformer will not exceed 40 % of its rated capacity. k. If import exceeds the export of power during a billing period, then the distribution licensee shall claim electricity dues for the net of electrical units from the consumer at the prevailing tariff.
l. If import is less than export of power during a billing period, then the net of electrical units will be credited to the consumer and carried forward to the next billing period for adjustment m. Unadjusted electrical units at the end of the settlement period (from 1st April till 30th March of the next year) will be purchased by the distribution licensee at its average cost of power purchase as approved by the regulatory commission within the first month of the following year n. Hence at the beginning of each settlement period, the quantum of electricity exported will be reset to zero.
The author is Chief Manager – Renewables , ICA India, Mumbai.