MERC Rejects Plea to Allow Open Access Facility and Banking of Power from a Solar Project

The petition was submitted by Shree Cement


The Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) has rejected a petition filed by Shree Cement requesting amendments to Distribution Open Access Regulations, 2016 and allowing the use of open access facility and banking of power from a co-located renewable energy power project simultaneously.

Shree Cement intended to set up a captive solar photovoltaic project and had proposed to connect the solar PV project to the electrical system of the cement grinding unit, which in turn would have been connected to the grid.

The commission observed that the energy generated from the solar PV project would be first used by the cement plant (being electrically integrated with solar PV project) and any excess energy generated from the solar PV project would flow into the grid in the form of an inadvertent injection due to its lower electricity consumption. This unutilized energy would, in turn, be fed into the grid using the connectivity of the cement grinding unit as a consumer of Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited.

The MERC further noted that the petitioner had not mentioned the capacity of the proposed solar PV project to be connected to the electrical system of the cement plant. According to the commission, “Capacity has a definite commercial and technical importance as in the extant regulations, there is differentiation in terms of capacity while allowing net meter arrangement (up to 1 MWp) and open access (above 1 MW).”

The commission believed that the petitioner intended using the grid as a storage battery arrangement by exporting unutilized solar generation to the grid and by using the banking facility. This arrangement would have been without availing open access arrangement for getting banking facility specifically provided under open access regulations.

In its order, the MERC stated, “It is not inclined to allow such connectivity to the petitioner for using banking facility under Distribution Open Access Regulations 2016.”

The Regulatory Commission also stated that it is going to undertake the process of amending the Open Access Regulations. The petitioner can file its suggestions in the public consultative process to be undertaken during such amendment of the Open Access Regulations noted the commission.

Recently, the MERC ruled that the Ministry of Finance’s notification that imposed safeguard duty is an event of “Change in Law,” and therefore the additional expenditure and other impacts will be considered for reimbursement under that clause.