Jharkhand Introduces Solar Group and Virtual Net Metering Framework
The regulations aim to support the goals of the Jharkhand State Solar Policy 2022
Jharkhand State Electricity Regulatory Commission (JSERC) has formulated regulations for group net metering and virtual net metering in the state. The rules are expected to help achieve the goals outlined in the Jharkhand State Solar Policy 2022.
Referred to as the Jharkhand State Electricity Regulatory Commission (Group Net Metering and Virtual Net Metering) Regulations, 2024, these rules will be effective upon their publication in the Jharkhand State Government Gazette.
The group net metering and virtual net metering frameworks are applicable to all eligible consumers. However, consumers with outstanding arrears with the distribution licensee will not be considered eligible.
The guidelines for providing land space will be governed by the provisions of JSERC (Electricity Supply Code) Regulations, 2015, subject to amendments and orders issued over time.
The distribution licensee must conduct a comprehensive technical study to assess the impact of the installed renewable energy system on the distribution system.
Applicants must submit a group net metering or virtual net metering application with a non-refundable fee for feasibility analysis.
Technical Feasibility Analysis
The distribution licensee is responsible for conducting a technical feasibility analysis based on the information provided in the application submitted by the eligible consumer.
This analysis must be completed within seven working days of the application being submitted. The distribution company (DISCOM) will grant feasibility approval to consumers on a first-come, first-served basis.
Eligible consumers and DISCOMs must finalize a technical and commercial agreement defining roles and responsibilities within 30 days of the technical feasibility analysis. Failure to do so will result in application cancellation.
The installation of the project must be completed within six months from the date of the agreement.
The DISCOM reserves the right to grant time extensions on a case-by-case basis should any delays extend beyond the stipulated six months. However, after this extended period, the agreement will be considered terminated.
The distribution licensee is mandated to install renewable energy meters at the generation points, enabling remote meter reading as per the provisions outlined in clause A9 of JSERC (Rooftop Solar PV Grid Interactive Systems and Net/Gross Metering) Regulations, 2015, subject to amendments and orders issued over time.
The consumer covers the net meter cost, capturing both imported and exported electricity. The “cost” denotes the difference between removing the current meter and installing a new net meter.
Billing and Energy Accounting (Group Net Metering)
Surplus energy from the renewable energy system, exceeding consumption, is adjusted against other service connections’ energy consumption based on a predefined priority list and sharing ratio.
Consumers can revise the priority list and sharing ratio at the beginning of every financial year with a two-month notice. Adjustment starts after accounting for energy at the renewable energy project’s service connection.
Electricity consumption and generation within specific time blocks (e.g., peak or off-peak hours) are reconciled in the same billing cycle. Surplus units are offset against the monthly energy consumption based on a priority list and consumer-provided ratios.
This adjustment follows the sequence of off-peak time blocks for Time of Day (ToD) consumers and normal time blocks for non-ToD consumers.
Off-peak time blocks refer to low-demand periods with lower rates for ToD consumers. Normal time blocks indicate consistent rates throughout the day for non-ToD consumers.
Excess exported units are carried forward to the next billing cycle as energy credits to offset future consumption within the settlement period. Energy units will be moderated as per the relevant rebate/surcharge percentage of the ToD tariff applicable for the relevant year.
Unadjusted electricity credits are settled at the end of each period, paid by the distribution licensee according to approved rates, and reset to zero thereafter.
Billing and Energy Accounting (Virtual Net Metering)
Energy generated from the renewable energy system is credited to monthly bills of participating connections based on the procurement ratio specified in the agreement/MoU.
Consumers can annually change their electricity credit share, subject to the procurement ratio, with a two-month notice.
If a participating consumer’s service connection is disconnected, the distribution licensee pays unadjusted units/remaining credits at a commission-approved rate by the end of the financial year.
Consumption is first compensated with renewable energy system generation in the same time blocks, with surplus credited as if occurring during off-peak hours.
Excess credited units are carried forward to the next billing period as energy credits to be adjusted against future consumption within the settlement period.
Energy units for carry forward or set-off are moderated based on relevant tariff rebates/surcharges.
Unadjusted electricity credits are settled by the distribution licensee at the end of each period, paid at commission-approved rates, resetting to zero at the beginning of the next settlement period.
DISCOM officials have the authority to conduct routine inspections on the renewable energy system or battery energy storage system (BESS) charged through a renewable energy system throughout the agreement term. During these inspections, DISCOM officials must verify the following aspects:
- Ensure that all protective equipment of the renewable energy system or BESS charged through a renewable energy system is functioning according to specifications.
- Confirm that the renewable energy system or BESS charged through a renewable energy system, including panels and inverters, continues to comply with the requirements of Indian and IEC standards post-installation until the completion of the connection agreement.
In case of any dispute related to billing, the resolution process shall follow the guidelines outlined in the JSERC (Guidelines for the Establishment of Forum for Redressal of Grievances of the Consumers, Electricity Ombudsman, and Consumer Advocacy) Regulations, 2020, subject to amendments from time to time.
Applicability of Other Charges
The renewable energy system commissioned under the JSERC (Rooftop Solar PV Grid Interactive Systems and Net/Gross Metering) Regulations, 2015, and these regulations shall be exempted from the payment of wheeling charges, banking charges, cross-subsidy charges, and any other applicable charges.
Renewable Purchase Obligation
The electricity generated will contribute towards meeting the renewable purchase obligation for the distribution licensee, provided the renewable energy generator is not an obligated entity.
Eligibility for REC Mechanism
The eligibility criteria for participation in the renewable energy certificate mechanism shall adhere to clause A13 of the JSERC (Rooftop Solar PV Grid Interactive Systems and Net/Gross Metering) Regulations, 2015, subject to amendments made from time to time and orders issued accordingly.
Power to Remove Difficulties/Amend
If implementing the provisions outlined in these regulations becomes difficult, the Commission can issue directions, either through general or specific orders. These directions should be in harmony with the provisions of the act and deemed necessary or expedient to address and resolve difficulties.
The Commission retains the authority to introduce changes, variations, alterations, modifications, or amendments to any provisions of these regulations. Such amendments will be carried out by following the necessary procedural steps.
Recently, JSERC introduced new regulations to encourage the generation of electricity from renewable sources. Called the Jharkhand State Electricity Regulatory Commission (Terms and Conditions for Green Energy Open Access) Regulations, 2024, these rules outline the measures for grid connection and the sale of green energy.
Jharkhand had announced the ‘Jharkhand Solar Policy 2022’, aiming to deploy a cumulative capacity of 4 GW in the state by 2026.
Subscribe to Mercom’s real-time Regulatory Updates to stay informed about critical updates from the renewable industry.