Shortage of Solar and Net Meters in the State, Says Rajasthan Renewable Association
The association addressed solar and net metering shortages and procedural issues with DISCOMS in the state
October 16, 2020
The Renewable Energy Association of Rajasthan (REAR) has written to the Rajasthan Renewable Energy Corporation Limited (RRECL), asking it to permit the use of existing energy meters for projects under the rooftop subsidy program due to a shortage of meters in the market.
The association explained that projects under the program were getting delayed due to the shortage of solar and net meters. It asked the RRECL to consider using existing energy meters for metering solar generation and to reserve new net meters only for solar projects. It added that this step would also help mitigate wasteful or duplicate costs that would invariably have to be borne by the engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) contractor and the end consumer.
It further noted that in instances where consumers increase their load requirements for solar installations, new meters need to be installed. These new meters will have to be replaced again when net-metering is required, leading to unnecessary additional expenditure.
Arvind Sindhawa, founder and general secretary of REAR, told Mercom that most meter manufacturers in the state are unable to meet the demand for net and solar meters as distribution companies are not prompt in submitting their detailed inspection reports to manufacturers. As a result of this, projects that have already been installed are unable to opt for net or solar meters, he added.
REAR explained that as a result of falling solar prices and consumer expectations for them to fall further, vendors and micro, medium, and small enterprises (MSMEs) are unable to manage costs.
In a separate letter addressed to the RRECL, the association wrote on behalf of empanelled vendors facing issues in getting approvals for load extension and net metering from distribution companies (DISCOMs).
It explained that there was no standard operating procedure for DISCOMs to follow net metering. As a result, the related engineer’s office has been following protocols, which has resulted in vendors and consumers being “harassed” and projects delayed.
The letter said that load extensions that are expected to be completed in 21 days were being delayed by over two months, especially in rural areas. It also cited delays in acquiring no-objection certificates for net metering connections and in meter testing of up to 45 days. The specified limit for these processes is only three days.
In addition to these, REAR cited examples where DISCOMs have been charging additional stamp fees apart from what is specified in net metering agreements. There have also been instances where the beneficiaries have been asked to share quotations and detailed cost sheets through email and promising concessions in return.
While this the case in Rajasthan, in contrast, it was reported that most solar households in Goa have a net-metering facility. More than 114 consumers have installed rooftop solar systems across Goa, of which 107 are net metered connections, and seven are gross metered.
Mercom previously published an article that said that the implementation of the net-metering policy in various states has been problematic primarily because DISCOMs do not want to lose premium customers in the C&I segment that pay high tariffs and are a major source of their revenue.
Back in July, REAR wrote to the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, asking it to start conducting online pre-dispatch inspections of the domestic content requirement (DCR) certified solar modules. The association, on behalf of all empaneled vendors under phase-II of the grid-connected rooftop solar program, wrote that while the pre-dispatch inspection process is vital to ensure the quality of the components used in the program, it was not a good idea to conduct physical inspections in these times.
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Nithin Thomas is a staff reporter at Mercom India. Previously with Reuters News, he has covered oil, metals and agricultural commodity markets across global markets. He has also covered refinery and pipeline explosions, oil and gas leaks, Atlantic region hurricane developments, and other natural disasters. Nithin holds a Masters Degree in Applied Economics from Christ University, Bangalore and a Bachelor’s Degree in Commerce from Loyola College, Chennai. More articles from Nithin.