UERC Rejects Plea for Changing Billing Cycles of Rooftop Solar Systems with Net Metering
UERC has directed its staff to collect monthly data of generation and consumption of power from consumers
March 17, 2020
The Uttarakhand Electricity Regulatory Commission (UERC) has dismissed a recent petition filed by the Uttarakhand Renewable Energy Development Agency (UREDA) for the settlement of net energy from a captive rooftop solar system once a year instead of the existing monthly basis.
The billing cycle or billing period implies the one-month period for which the electricity bills are prepared for each eligible consumer by the licensee.
UREDA had earlier approached the Commission requesting it to direct Uttarakhand Power Corporation Limited (UPCL, the respondent in this case) to provide a net metering arrangement to rooftop solar systems without entering into any power purchase agreement (PPA) under Solar Energy Corporation of India’s (SECI) program of grid-connectivity and net-metering for rooftop solar systems.
After a meeting held in 2017, it was decided that UPCL should provide grid connectivity under the net metering arrangement, and UREDA would draft a no objection certificate (NOC) with the Commission’s approval which would then be issued by UPCL to rooftop solar power developers for connectivity.
Later, UREDA submitted a draft format of NOC for the approval of the Commission with the condition that the net metering of energy will be done in line with the billing cycle. If in a billing period, the supplied energy is less than the energy injected by the rooftop solar system, then the excess energy injected into the grid would be injected free of cost.
Subsequently, UREDA approached the Commission requesting for issuance of appropriate directions to UPCL for issuing NOC to various government and private institutions, organizations, commercial and industrial users for allowing net metering arrangements for captive use other than that sanctioned by SECI. In line with the request, the Commission directed UPCL to issue NOC to the applicants for the rooftop solar projects to be implemented under various programs of the state in line with the procedures followed for SECI approved projects.
Now, coming back to the latest petition, it was submitted that the power generated from solar power systems is directly proportional to the solar radiation, which is not uniform throughout the year and varies drastically at different weather conditions. In case of export of surplus power to the grid during the clear sunny days, no payments are made to the solar generator, so the solar generators usually opt for the smallest system so that it does not generate surplus solar power which could create a hurdle in the promoting solar installations of adequate size.
The solar generators have previously approached UREDA to seek carry-forward of excess energy to the next billing period and settlement of the excess energy yearly.
Therefore, the petitioner, being the state nodal agency for the development and promotion of renewable energy source, requested the Commission to allow the excess energy (after the settlement of net energy in a billing period) from captive use to be carried forward to the next billing period as energy
credit and shown as energy exported by the consumer for the adjustment against the energy consumed in subsequent billing period within the settlement period. At the end of each settlement period (financial year), any net energy credits which remain unadjusted should be deemed to be injected free of cost into the UPCL grid.
In response to this, the UPCL submitted that the connectivity had been granted to solar systems developed under the net metering model after accepting the terms and conditions of the NOC. Any modification in the conditions of NOC could be permitted now.
Meanwhile, the Commission stated that the consumers have already agreed to inject surplus energy into the grid free of cost, and now they are seeking an annual adjustment through UREDA. It added that this would be against the financial interests of the UPCL.
The Commission also pointed out that regulations are framed considering various aspects but are not limited to government policies, public comments, or evacuation system of the distribution licensee.
“Since the regulation is subordinate legislation and certain legal procedures are required to be followed for carrying out any amendment to the regulations, such amendments cannot be done through a petition,” the Commission remarked.
According to the Commission, the adjustment of surplus energy after self-consumption into the grid is not allowed to those consumers who have a PPA with UPCL, and allowing under the SECI model would lead to discrimination among the two sets of consumers.
The Commission has also directed its staff to collect the monthly data of generation and consumption of power from the consumers of SECI and other programs that have been supplying excess solar energy into the grid for a year.
As a year has already passed since the issuance of the state regulations, the Commission has also asked them to evaluate the issues as per the practices followed in other states along with the implications on UPCL. The analysis needs to be submitted for the Commission to take an appropriate viewpoint.
Earlier, it was reported that Haryana Electricity Regulatory Commission allowed carrying forward excess generated energy from one billing cycle to the next within a financial year but did not allow for it to be carried to the next year.
In November 2019, Mercom reported that the Gujarat Electricity Regulatory Commission (GERC) dismissed a petition requesting to purchase surplus energy from open access solar projects set up for captive use or third-party sale at the lowest tariff discovered through competitive bidding or average power purchase cost (APPC).
Anjana is a news editor at Mercom India. Before joining Mercom, she held roles of senior editor, district correspondent, and sub-editor for The Times of India, Biospectrum and The Sunday Guardian. Before that, she worked at the Deccan Herald and the Asianlite as chief sub-editor and news editor. She has also contributed to The Quint, Hindustan Times, The New Indian Express, Reader’s Digest (UK edition), IndiaSe (Singapore-based magazine) and Asiaville. Anjana holds a Master’s degree in Geography from North Bengal University, and a diploma in mass communication and journalism from Guru Ghasidas University, Bhopal.