Safeguard Duty on Solar Units in SEZs and Other Policy Highlights from December 2018

2018 came to an end with numerous landmark announcements


The month of December was a busy one for the domestic renewable sector, with a series of orders issued by various state and central agencies, especially the state electricity regulatory commissions. However, the highlight of the month remained the notification from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry stating that the solar module and cell manufacturers in India that are operating in special economic zones (SEZs) will not benefit from the levy of 25 percent safeguard duty on solar imports. These units will have to pay safeguard duty for the modules and cells produced by them and utilized for solar projects in India.

Here is a roundup of key policy announcements made by central government and state agencies in the renewable energy sector in the month of December 2018:


The Ministry of Power (MoP) announced the ECO Niwas Samhita 2018, which is the Energy Conservation Building Code for residential buildings (ECBC-R). The implementation of this code is expected to boost energy efficiency in the residential sector, its occupants, and the larger environment by promoting energy efficiency in the design and construction of homes, apartments, and townships.

The Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC)  issued an order stating that the introduction of Goods and Services Tax (GST) that came into effect from July 1, 2017 will constitute a change in law event for the transmission service providers in India.

The Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) issued an order extending the scheduled commercial operating date for 72 MW of grid-connected solar photovoltaic projects. The commission was examining a petition filed by Welspun Energy Private Limited against the Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI).

With the goal to facilitate the widespread adoption of electric vehicles (EV) in the country, the Ministry of Power announced guidelines and standards for the development of electric vehicle charging infrastructure in India.


The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) issued a memorandum for the implementation of public procurement in renewable energy sector giving preference to ‘Make in India’ products. This is in response to the central government’s order, issued by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) to promote manufacturing and production of goods and services in India in order to improve income and employment in the country.

The MNRE also amended the guidelines for the implementation of its scheme under which the government aims to develop 5 GW of solar projects with Viability Gap Funding (VGF) under the fourth batch of the National Solar Mission (NSM) Phase-II.

Moreover, the agency amended two clauses in the policy to support the promotion of biomass-based cogeneration projects in sugar mills and other industries in the country up to March 2020. MNRE had announced the program in May 2018.


The Karnataka Electricity Regulatory Commission (KERC) set the generic tariff for grid-connected solar rooftop units between 1 kW and 10 kW installed by domestic consumers in the state. While the generic tariff without capital subsidy has been fixed at ₹4.15 (~$0.06)/kWh, the tariff with capital subsidy will be ₹3.08 (~0.044)/kWh.

The Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) approved the competitive bidding process for the long-term procurement of power from wind-solar hybrid projects in the state. The MSEDCL had also proposed an upper tariff ceiling of ₹2.75 (~$0.039)/kWh and a PPA tenure of 25 years.

The MERC has also approved the competitive bidding process for the long-term procurement of 1 GW power from floating solar projects which will be established on the state’s Ujjani Dam. The MSEDCL had proposed that after the scheduled commissioning date, if the project is ready but the necessary power evacuation infrastructure beyond delivery point is not ready, no compensation will be permissible to the generator.

The Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC)  issued draft guidelines to implement a group net-metering and a virtual net-metering framework under the Delhi Solar Policy 2016. According to the draft, the purpose of this group net-metering framework is to help maximize the utilization of rooftop space for solar energy generation for consumers with multiple buildings and service connections.

The Uttarakhand Electricity Regulatory Commission (UERC) issued a draft order regarding the review of benchmark capital cost for solar PV, solar thermal, grid-interactive rooftop, and small solar PV projects to be applicable for the financial year (FY) 2019-20.

The Tamil Nadu Electricity Regulatory Commission (TNERC) rejected the plea made by Neyveli Lignite Corporation India Limited (NLCIL) for a tariff protection of ₹4.41 (~$0.062)/kWh for 400 MW solar power projects under force majeure clauses. The commission has agreed on tariff of ₹3.05 (~$0.043)/kWh (with AD benefit) for these projects.