Maharashtra Raises Net Metering Cap for Rooftop Solar Projects to 5 MW
Consumers can opt for group net metering, gross metering, or behind-the-meter connections
The Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) has increased the net metering cap for rooftop solar power projects to either 5 MW or the consumer’s contract demand/ sanction load, whichever is lower. Net metering in the state was earlier capped at less than 1 MW.
The increase in the net metering cap comes across as an effort to encourage the adoption of commercial and industrial rooftop installations.
The Commission has also allowed consumers to opt for group net metering, net billing, or behind-the-meter connection.
The amendments are a part of the latest Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (Grid Interactive Rooftop Renewable Energy Generating Systems) (First Amendment) Regulations, 2023.
According to the proposed amendments, an eligible consumer is an electricity consumer within the distribution company’s (DISCOM) service area who uses or intends to use a renewable energy generation system. The system can be situated on its rooftop or another support structure on its premises. This definition encompasses consumers who collectively utilize a shared load, such as those within a housing society.
Grid Support Charges
The Commission has clarified that grid support charges will not be imposed until the total installed rooftop capacity in the state reaches 5 GW. However, DISCOMs can approach the Commission to seek approval or clarification regarding charges associated with energy banking.
Under the amended regulation, the Commission has allowed gross metering. According to the amendment, gross metering involves setting up a renewable energy generation system to sell all the electricity generated to DISCOM through a power purchase agreement.
However, if the renewable energy generation system is linked to the consumer’s side of the meter, the existing meter must be replaced with a net meter.
Under the gross metering arrangement, all the electricity recorded by the generation meter will qualify for meeting the DISCOM’s renewable purchase obligations (RPO).
Group Net Metering
The Commission has introduced group net metering through the new amendment. It involves surplus units injected into the grid from a rooftop system or any other mounting structure in the consumer’s premises that will be adjusted against the energy consumed in the monthly bill of service connections based on a priority list and sharing ratio.
The adjustment priority begins after accounting for units at the service connection where the rooftop system is located.
The consumer can revise the priority list and share ratio for surplus energy adjustment against other electricity connections at the start of every financial year, with a two-month advance notice.
The electricity consumption in any time block will first be compensated with the electricity generation in similar time blocks in the same billing cycle of the consumer where the rooftop system is located.
Surplus units are then adjusted against the energy consumed in other service connections based on the priority list and ratios provided by the consumer. If the surplus generation/ energy credits occurred during the off-peak time block for the time of day (TOD) consumers and the normal time block for non-TOD consumers. If, during a billing period, exported units exceed imported units, the surplus units are carried forward as energy credits to the next billing period.
The unadjusted net credited units of electricity at the end of each financial year will be purchased by DISCOM at the generic tariff approved by the Commission for that year within the first month of the following year. However, at the beginning of each settlement period, the injected electricity carried forward will be reset to zero.
If the accumulated credit amount keeps increasing for three consecutive financial years, 50% of that amount will be paid in cash to the consumer within 60 days at the end of the third financial year. The remaining 50% will be credited to the second electricity bill after the end of the third financial year.
If there is a delay in payment or crediting beyond 60 days, the DISCOM must pay simple interest on the outstanding amount. The interest rate is determined by the prevailing one-year Marginal Cost of Lending Rate of the State Bank of India plus 150 basis points to the eligible consumer.
Wheeling charges and losses for surplus energy wheeling to other premises under group net metering are exempted until the installed rooftop capacity in Maharashtra reaches 5 GW.
Net Billing Arrangement
The Maharashtra Commission has amended the net billing arrangement. In this setup, surplus energy injected into the grid by a rooftop system is purchased by the DISCOM. The DISCOM then raises the bills on the consumer for his consumption from the grid at the approved grid tariff after giving credit for energy injected into the grid at a pre-determined tariff.
The accounting of electricity exported and imported by the consumer will become effective from the date of connectivity of the rooftop system with the distribution network. According to the regular metering cycle, the DISCOM must undertake a meter reading of both the renewable energy generation meter and the net meter for all eligible consumers.
For each billing period, the DISCOM must furnish the eligible consumer with specific information on the electricity bill. This includes details of the renewable energy generated, with an account of opening and closing balances recorded by the renewable energy generation meter. The bill must specify the quantity of electricity units consumed by the consumer, including opening and closing balances.
Information regarding the amount of energy injected into and drawn from the grid by prosumers is also to be included. The bill should detail the renewable energy generation units the DISCOM utilizes for RPO compliance.
Last December, MERC highlighted certain crucial amendments required to rooftop solar and green energy open access regulations. The changes included leasing rooftops or premises to install a solar system and use the power through open access.
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