The Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) has finally come out with a draft notification for allowing grid connectivity to rooftop solar power generation sets. The notification published on March 9 has cited recommendations of the working committee which was formed on MERC’s directives. The committee had submitted its report seven months ago.
Now, MERC has called for objections, if any, by March 31 to the draft notification which has opened avenues for common man’s participation in promoting green energy in a big way. If these provisions get final approval, one can install solar PV units to generate power at home, offices and even factories and get net metering so as to connect with the grid.
The credits earned can be adjusted against electricity bills of the individual or organization by the distribution company. The credits will be calculated annually. If there is any surplus generation, 10% of it will be bought by the distribution company.
“This is a big positive,” said an elated city businessman Sudhir Budhay. He has been fighting for last two years seeking policy regulations to enable grid connectivity for rooftop solar generators. “While there is policy for solar power connectivity for units generating 1MW or more, there is no such clarity for smaller sets with less than 1MW or 33KV,” explained Budhay.
His public interest litigation (case 86 of 2013) was given final hearing on July 2013 by MERC which issued an order on November 25, 2013, forming a committee to frame technical guidelines. The 17-member committee included Budhay and representatives of all power distribution companies as well as couple of expert consultants.
In absence of the policy, rooftop units were not considered worth investment as they were not linked to the grid. At least 13 states, including Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Punjab, Delhi, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Goa and Orissa, and all Union territories have laid down norms to provide grid connectivity to rooftop solar power sets that are being accepted as a non-conventional energy source.
The net metering of smaller units is in line with the state’s new renewable energy policy that is expected to be unveiled during the ongoing session of state legislature. The state has set a target of 11,110MW of renewable power by 2019, of which 7,500MW will be solar and rest through cogeneration, hydel and biomass. The MERC has also made it obligatory for distribution companies to meet a portion of the requirement through renewable sources. “So, despite their reservations, discoms will have no choice but to promote non-conventional power,” said Budhay.