MNRE May Do Away with CPSUs’ Involvement in Rooftop Solar Program

R K Singh had said CPSUs would avail loans for consumers to install the systems


Days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced 300 units of free electricity through rooftop solar projects installed under the PM Surya Ghar: Muft Bijli Yojana, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has told industry stakeholders that it is rethinking the implementation of the program.

Sources told Mercom that MNRE, in an interaction with industry stakeholders, that Central Public Sector Undertakings (CPSU) designated as the implementing agencies may no longer be involved in executing the program.

Union Minister for Power and New & Renewable Energy R K Singh had explained that CPSUs would avail loans for setting up the systems, which would now carry a subsidy of 60% in place of the earlier 40%. The income from any surplus electricity generated will go towards servicing the loan availed by the CPSU. The loan is expected to be repaid within this period.

The minister had also said the solar systems for households installing them on their roofs would be entirely free.

The sources said the recent increment in rooftop solar subsidy is the only proposal that will stay effective under the program.

The ministry, however, did not clarify the subsidies applicable for residential welfare associations and group housing societies in the notification, as it awaits the Finance Ministry’s approval.

The MNRE will lay down guidelines for banks and institutions to provide low-interest lending rates for end consumers to install rooftop solar projects on their own investment.

According to the sources, MNRE, in its various interactions with the stakeholders and CPSUs, realized that there were a plethora of challenges in CPSUs executing the program. Implementing the systems on a large scale through tenders, managing thefts and consumer complaints, and other such issues were identified as difficult for the CPSUs to handle.

The stakeholders also told MNRE that limiting the program to 3 kW – 300 free units would effectively eliminate the 2-3 kW consumer base, which accounts for 50-60% of the overall residential rooftop solar installations.

A CPSU executive confirmed that they had presented their challenges to the ministry and discussed that the state DISCOMs and vendors were better placed to manage the rooftop solar installations on the ground.

The sources revealed that the information related to the program was shared while it was under discussion and pending consultation from industry stakeholders.

The industry is concerned at what appears to be a rushed announcement of the PM Surya Ghar: Muft Bijli Yojana program and its swift migration to the National Rooftop Solar Portal. The portal, however, does not include any details of the new program design.