Government Issues Operational Guidelines for PM Surya Ghar Program

The program has a total financial allocation of ₹750.21 billion


The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has issued the operational guidelines to implement the PM Surya Ghar: Muft Bijli Yojana for the component “Central Financial Assistance (CFA) to residential consumers.”

These guidelines pertain to implementing CFA to residential consumers under the capex mode for eligible consumer categories only. The guidelines for other components of the program will be issued separately.

The guidelines will be applicable for all applications received on the national portal from February 13, 2024. The implementation period of the program will be until March 31, 2027.

Eligible consumers can utilize the PM Surya Ghar national portal to receive program benefits.

Any consumer with a valid Consumer Account Number (or its equivalent) from a power distribution company (DISCOM) can apply on the portal. The portal generates an application ID and provides tools like informational aids and decision-making resources to aid in choosing rooftop solar configurations.

Transition from Existing Program

The Grid Connected Rooftop Solar Phase II Program, active since 2019 and proposed to run until 2025-26, is now integrated into the PM Surya Ghar: Muft Bijli Yojana. Until the new program’s dedicated budget is operational, CFA and other financial releases for PM Surya Ghar will be funded from the Phase II Program’s budget.

Once operational, the new program’s funds will cover the ongoing liabilities of the Phase II Program.

Ongoing projects under Phase II will follow the guidelines of Phase II, but budgetary releases will come from the new program’s outlay.

Central Financial Assistance

The program provides financial support for installing grid-connected rooftop solar projects in the residential sector. Eligible installations must be on a residential property’s roof, terrace, balcony, elevated structures, and building integrated PV systems.

Installations under group net metering and virtual net metering are eligible if approved by the local DISCOM and located on specified structures.

CFA support is available for consumer-funded installations through personal capital or loans. RESCO and state-led aggregation models are excluded and will be addressed through separate guidelines.

Non-residential segments (government, commercial, and industrial) are not eligible for CFA.

Connections eligible under the program are for shared facilities in group housing and residential welfare associations and not for individual residential consumers. CFA support is provided to entities responsible for maintaining common facilities, such as apartment owner associations and cooperative housing societies.

State and union governments may provide additional subsidies, which must align with program guidelines and integrate with the national portal for disbursement.

Benchmark costs will be revised during the program’s midterm review or earlier if module prices change significantly, requiring budgetary adjustments with approval from the Department of Expenditure.

Solar modules used in the installation must satisfy the Domestic Content Requirement condition, i.e., domestically manufactured modules manufactured from domestically manufactured cells. This is an essential condition for the installation to be eligible for the CFA.

Consumers can opt out of CFA to extend program benefits to more users, enabled through a “Give It Up” option on the national portal. Those opting out can use non-domestic modules.

Vendor Selection and Agreement

Consumers select a registered vendor from the national portal and can engage them at mutually agreed rates. There is no tendering process by state DISCOMs, promoting consumer freedom in vendor selection. The portal includes vendor comparison tools to facilitate informed decisions.

Consumers collaborate on system design, components, quality, and financial terms with chosen vendors. They can sign agreements covering these aspects, ensuring mutual understanding and transparency. Although a sample agreement is provided, actual agreements vary case by case.

Consumer Protection

The portal offers comprehensive informational materials, decision-making tools, and vendor/system comparison resources. These empower consumers to make informed choices regarding their rooftop solar investments.

Minimum technical specifications for all vendors installing rooftop solar systems are set under the program. DISCOMs verify compliance during inspections.

To prevent overcharging, the Ministry publishes indicative costs of system components (modules, inverters, etc.) on the portal, ensuring transparency and consumer protection.

Implementation and Metering

As per Electricity (Rights of Consumers) Rules, applications for rooftop solar systems up to 10 kW capacity are accepted without DISCOMs’ technical feasibility approval. Consumers upload required documents until this provision is operationalized.

Vendors install systems, conduct safety checks, and educate consumers on rooftop solar maintenance and safety. After installation completion, consumers update system details on the portal and upload necessary documents.

DISCOMs conduct physical inspections, sign metering agreements, and approve applications on the portal for CFA release. CFA disbursement follows physical verification and portal process completion.

DISCOMs install meters after rooftop installation, and consumers sign appropriate metering agreements per state regulations. Net meters can be provided by DISCOMs or procured from enlisted vendors.

Smart meters are installed through the Advance Metering Infrastructure Service Provider (AMISP) in areas where RDSS Smart Metering works are ongoing.

In areas pending Smart Metering under RDSS, net meters (preferably Smart Meters with 4G Cellular NIC card) are installed per manufacturers’ specifications listed by the Central Electricity Authority.

Non-Metered Grid Connected Systems are eligible for CFA under the program, subject to approval by Electricity Regulatory Commissions. In such cases, the DISCOM will inspect the installation, ensure the functioning of the reverse power relay protection, and incorporate suitable remarks in the report. However, off-grid connected installations will not be eligible for CFA under the program.

CFA release operates through an e-token system. After application submission on the portal and completion of DISCOM inspection, the e-token is activated with eligible CFA based on installed capacity. Consumers redeem the e-token through their portal profile, and CFA is transferred to their account.

Consumers can opt for financing through the portal, accessing loan products from banks and financial institutions directly via the Jan Samarth portal integration. Standardized low-interest loan products are available for residential rooftop solar systems up to 3 kW, with similar options for larger, non-subsidized segments published on the portal.

All consumer details must be submitted on the portal, including bank account information and necessary proof. Consumers opting for loans include loan account details in their profile, facilitating direct CFA transfer to loan accounts upon e-token redemption.

CFA processing is completed within 15 days of DISCOM approval, ensuring timely financial support for rooftop solar installations.

Vendor Registration

The program mandates that only vendors registered on the national portal can participate, ensuring consumers receive CFA under the program.

Vendors can register at the state level with DISCOMs/state agencies or at national/multi-state/state levels with the National Program Implementation Agency. State governments designate nodal DISCOMs/agencies to streamline vendor registrations across multiple DISCOMs.

Registered vendors maintain profiles on the national portal, detailing rooftop solar system specifications, offered prices, and contact information. Consumers can submit inquiries through the portal, and vendors are expected to respond promptly. Vendor profiles also feature ratings, consumer feedback, and performance data from completed or ongoing projects.

Service Quality

Vendors commit to providing free repairs and maintenance for rooftop solar projects during the comprehensive maintenance contract period, typically five years from commissioning. They replace or repair underperforming system components and honor warranties provided by original equipment manufacturers. Any system deficiencies affecting CFA disbursal or non-commissioning are promptly rectified by vendors, adhering strictly to program technical specifications.

Implementing agencies such as state DISCOMs, MNRE officials, or designated agencies conduct inspections of ongoing or completed installations to uphold quality standards. Vendors failing to meet standards, delivering non-functional systems due to poor installation quality, or non-compliance with program guidelines face potential penalties, including deregistration and fines, following due notice.

National Portal Functionalities

The portal integrates seamlessly with State DISCOM portals, ensuring a harmonized experience for consumers across all stages of rooftop solar installations. From net metering requests to load sanctions and inspections, the integrated platform streamlines processes and enhances accessibility.

The portal welcomes applications, websites, financing intermediaries, and e-commerce sites through APIs. This integration expands service offerings, providing additional benefits and convenience for citizens.

Augmented with GIS-based services, the portal facilitates informed decision-making and visualization of rooftop solar systems for vendors and consumers. Integration with the PM-Gati Shakti portal optimizes power system planning, leveraging spatial data for enhanced efficiency.

The portal is accessible via apps, chatbots, and WhatsApp. This multi-channel approach ensures broader outreach, facilitating timely communication and updates for all user segments.

The portal also offers value-added services like financial modeling and return period analysis for proposed systems. Integration with banking products simplifies access to loans and digital-only financial products, enhancing consumer convenience.

The national portal receives real-time generation data from connected inverters and smart meters, providing analytical insights to consumers and assisting DISCOMs in data collection. Vendors ensure data access via SIM, dongle, or Wi-Fi, ensuring comprehensive tracking and reporting.

Inspection and Evaluation

The National Program Implementation Agency (NPIA) at the national level and State Implementation Agencies (SIAs) will conduct thorough inspections and evaluations. Inspections occur during the commissioning and post-commissioning to verify compliance with program guidelines and technical specifications.

The NPIA will establish a robust mechanism for independent third-party assessments covering at least 1% of installed rooftop solar systems across India. These assessments ensure an impartial evaluation of installations, focusing on adherence to quality standards and operational efficiency.

SIAs may implement additional mechanisms for post-commissioning inspections on a sampling basis to monitor ongoing system performance. SIAs may also conduct independent third-party assessments to validate further the quality and performance of installed rooftop solar systems.

All vendors registered on the national portal will receive a vendor rating based on criteria such as installation scale, equipment quality, workmanship, and service quality, which will be visible to the consumers on the portal. Consumer visibility of vendor ratings on the national portal enhances transparency, enabling informed decisions regarding vendor selection for rooftop solar installations.

Consumers and vendors can raise grievances through the national portal, which will be channeled for resolution by the SIA/ NPIA. The grievances will be resolved within 30 days. Consumers and vendors will get regular updates regarding the status of grievances through SMS, emails, and other channels of communication.

The grievances may be raised through the national call center, national portal, or the portal app. In each case, a unique tracking ID will be created by the NPIA so that the consumer can track the status of the resolution of the grievance through an online system.

Release of Funds

Within three months of notification of the guidelines, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between MNRE and state or UT energy departments is mandatory. Release of funds under various program components to state or UT entities is contingent upon MoU signing.

Implementation Agencies

Initially, REC will serve as the NPIA, managing the National portal, vendor registrations, and overall program operations.

DISCOMs or energy departments act as SIAs, responsible for ensuring service timelines, monitoring vendor performance, and coordinating with NPIA.

Program Monitoring

A group of ministers will provide guidance and coordinate with states. A steering committee chaired by the cabinet secretary monitors overall program implementation with representation from key ministries.

A mission directorate headed by a senior official not below the rank of Joint Secretary, will oversee program implementation within MNRE and direct NPIA activities. State and district-level coordination committees monitor local implementation, chaired by administrative heads.

Mercom has recently highlighted how implementation issues continue to plague the rollout of PM Surya Ghar Yojana and how bugs and glitches in the national portal slow down rooftop solar installations.

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