Gadkari urges power minister to reconsider restriction on solar rooftop projects –

Gadkari urges power minister to reconsider restriction on solar rooftop projectsBENGALURU: Union micro, small and medium industries minister Nitin Gadkari has urged power minister R K Singh to reconsider a recent controversial decision to restrict net metering in solar rooftop projects.

The power ministry had recently issued a gazette notification directing states to henceforth allow net metering only for solar rooftop projects with capacity lower than 10 KW. Those with higher capacity needs to shift to gross metering.

With most solar rooftop installations in the commercial and industrial (C&I) segment being above 10 KW, developers had strongly protested the step.

Net metering allows grid-connect solar rooftop plant owners to supply and receive power from distribution companies (discoms) through the same metre and pay only for extra units consumed. Under gross metering, power bought and sold are metred differently.

Discoms in many states have been lobbying against net metering, arguing that the system robs them of legitimate revenue. This is because the tariff discoms pay while buying power from developers is markedly lower than the tariff at which they sell power to consumers.

In a letter to Singh dated February 15, Gadkari noted that while more and more micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) were installing solar rooftop projects, thereby contributing to the share of clean energy in the grid, the notification might well discourage them.

“It is feared that this share will shrink in the near future, affect power generation of the nation, as it is feared that the new amendments are going to affect the savings of the small units and individuals,” Gadkari said in the letter.

ET has seen a copy of the letter.

“I would like to bring to your notice that there are over 500 integrators in the Vidarbha region along with self-employed engineers who have taken up (this) new business. They fear that their business, investments and employment will be jeopardised,” the letter said.

Power and MSME ministries did not respond to ET’s email queries about the letter as of press time Thursday.

The solar industry feels that bifurcating projects into less than 10 KW and greater than 10 KW is tantamount to undue discrimination, and is against the spirit of the Electricity Act 2003.

“The notified rules will implode the market,” Distributed Solar Power Association (Dispa), a body of solar rooftop developers, said in a recent letter to the power minister. “The industry is even fearing that these rules shall be subjected to interpretation on the already operating and under construction projects and shall stall the rooftop PV market from achieving the 40 GW targets set under the segment,” it said, referring to the government’s target of installing 40 GW of rooftop solar capacity by 2022.

Sanjeev Aggarwal, managing director of solar rooftop firm Amplus Solar, said the entire industry will be severely impacted if the power ministry’s notification is adopted by states.

“The consumers need net metering for sure to manage the fluctuations in their load and in the absence of a reasonable gross metering tariff that is linked to cost of rooftop solar generation, we will see a significant reduction in customer interest,” he said.

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