West Bengal Prepares to Implement Net Metering Program for Rooftop Solar Systems

Energy generated by consumers' rooftop solar should be considered for fulfilling DISCOMs' RPO


The West Bengal Electricity Regulatory Commission (WBERC) has directed India Power Corporation Limited (IPCL) to modify its proposed net metering connection procedure within seven days.

The Commission also directed IPCL to complete software upgradation to implement net metering and net-billing arrangements from January 1, 2022.

IPCL had submitted to the Commission a detailed procedure for consumers to apply for connectivity of solar power systems under the net billing and net metering mechanism.

IPCL’s proposed procedure:

  • To apply for connectivity of solar systems under net billing and net metering mechanism, eligible consumers need to provide a prescribed application form with a copy of the latest power bill to IPCL.
  • If consumers’ rooftop solar systems are found in order and line with the regulations, IPCL will execute a standard agreement with consumers.
  • Under the net billing arrangement, IPCL must sign a power purchase agreement at a generic tariff determined by the Commission.
  • The distribution company (DISCOM) must procure total energy generated by consumers and raise the bill according to the procedure in the regulations. IPCL should not pay any outstanding billing credit at the end of the financial year.
  • In case of a net billing arrangement, consumers must bear costs of solar generating meter, net meter, and check meter installed by IPCL.
  • The fees for application, installation testing, and device installation must comply with the regulations.

As per the Commission’s direction, IPCL published the application procedure in three newspapers. The company said any suggestions and objections on their application should be sent within 14 days of publication. However, it did not receive any suggestions, comments, or objections within the stipulated time.

Commission’s analysis

 The Commission observed that DISCOMs were required to submit a detailed procedure to the Commission within 30 days to receive and dispose applications for connectivity of solar systems from eligible consumers. It extended the last date to submit the procedure up to March 31, 2021, at the request of DISCOMs.

After analyzing the detailed submission made by IPCL, the Commission said the application fees’ structure should be simple and uniform for DISCOMs across the state. Therefore, application fees for all low voltage and medium voltage consumers are set at ₹500 (~$6.6) plus Goods and Services Tax (GST). The application fees for high voltage and extra-high voltage consumers are set at ₹2,000 (~$26.3) plus GST.

The Commission directed IPCL to create an online portal for receiving applications from consumers for installation, interconnection, and metering of rooftop solar systems. The company should also upload the application if consumers submit a hard copy. IPCL must provide an online application tracking mechanism based on the unique registration number.

The Commission said IPCL must complete the technical feasibility study, generate the quotation, and give the go-ahead within 20 days from the application’s submission. Consumers will have to pay the amount within 90 days. IPCL can extend the period by 30 days.

The consumer must submit the work completion report and clearance from the Chief Electrical Inspector’s office within 180 days from the clearance date.

IPCL must cancel the application after giving 30 days’ notice period if the consumer fails to submit a work completion report. The consumer can request a one-time extension for a maximum of 90 days to submit the work completion report. The consumer’s application fee will be forfeited if an application is canceled after such an extension.

The Commission directed IPCL to complete all formalities, including the final inspection of solar systems, signing of the agreement, alteration of connection, installation of the meter, and synchronization of the solar system with the grid within 15 days from the submission of fitness certificate by consumers.

Solar energy generated by consumers’ rooftop solar systems under the net metering/billing arrangement should be considered for fulfilling DISCOMs’ renewable purchase obligation (RPO).

In March 2021, WBERC ruled that consumers who install solar photovoltaic systems before June 30, 2021, will be eligible for net metering facilities.

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