After Huge Uproar, Maharashtra Issues New Net Metering Regulations for Rooftop Solar
Consumers with outstanding bills with DISCOMs will not be eligible for net metering or net billing arrangements
The Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) has issued new regulations for net metering in the state. These regulations will come into force from the date of their publication in the Official Gazette.
The regulation will apply to net metering and net billing arrangements (gross metering), and grid-connected renewable energy generating systems (REGS) tied to the consumer’s meter.
According to the new regulations, the net metering arrangement or net billing arrangement will be permitted by the distribution licensee on a non-discriminatory, ‘first come, first serve’ basis to eligible consumers who have already installed or are likely to install a renewable energy generating system connected to the network of the DISCOM.
The cumulative capacity of all renewable systems under net metering or net billing arrangement connected to a distribution transformer of the DISCOM should not exceed 70% of its rated capacity.
MERC’s regulations also state that the distribution licensee should update the distribution transformer-wise capacity available and the cumulative capacity of the renewable systems installed under net metering arrangements on its website every quarter.
As for the technical arrangements, the minimum size of the system that can be set up under net metering or net billing arrangements is 1 kW. The maximum size of installation allowed will depend on the cumulative capacity of the distribution transformer, which has already been utilized.
Further, the capacity of the renewable energy generating system to be connected at the eligible consumer’s premises should not exceed the sanctioned load (in kW) or the contract demand (in kVA) of the consumer.
However, high tension (HT) consumers can install and connect the renewable systems at their low tension (LT) bus bar systems. In such cases, the net meter will be installed on the HT side of the consumer’s transformer.
Meanwhile, the eligible consumer can install or enhance the capacity of renewable energy generating systems at different locations within the same premises. However, the total capacity limits should not exceed as specified in the sanctioned load or contract demand.
The MERC clearly states that those consumers with pending arrears with the distribution licensee will not be eligible for the net metering arrangement or net billing arrangement.
Consumers can install a renewable energy generating system with or without storage, provided that if the consumer opts for connectivity with storage, the inverter will have the appropriate arrangement to prevent the power from flowing into the grid in the absence of grid supply.
The energy purchased by the DISCOM from these rooftop systems will qualify for its renewable purchase obligation (RPO).
In November 2019, Mercom reported that Maharashtra issued a draft regulation for grid-interactive rooftop solar projects, which stated that the state could go back to gross metering and roll back net metering for all segments except residential.
After the release of the draft, solar developers of the state vehemently protested the proposed regulations and alleged that the draft regulations by the MERC are an attempt by the DISCOM to kill the rooftop industry.
The members of the state’s solar body had also met the Minister of Power R.K.Singh, apprising him about their plight and their objections towards the draft order.
Image credit: Sunsez
Anjana is a news editor at Mercom India. Before joining Mercom, she held roles of senior editor, district correspondent, and sub-editor for The Times of India, Biospectrum and The Sunday Guardian. Before that, she worked at the Deccan Herald and the Asianlite as chief sub-editor and news editor. She has also contributed to The Quint, Hindustan Times, The New Indian Express, Reader’s Digest (UK edition), IndiaSe (Singapore-based magazine) and Asiaville. Anjana holds a Master’s degree in Geography from North Bengal University, and a diploma in mass communication and journalism from Guru Ghasidas University, Bhopal.