The Gujarat Electricity Regulatory Commission (GERC) says it will start working on a draft amendment for net metering regulations, incorporating changes and suggestions presented in a petition by the Gujarat Urja Vikas Nigam Limited (GUVNL).
In its order, the GERC ordered its staff to initiate the drafting process following a petition by the GUVNL. The petition sought its approval for a rate of ₹2.25 (~$0.03)/kWh for the purchase of surplus power from solar rooftop projects by distribution licensees set up under the Surya Urja Rooftop Yojana (SURYA- Gujarat) program.
In its petition, the GUVNL said that the requested tariff was necessary to maintain an equitable balance between projects set up exclusively for sale of power to distribution licensees and rooftop projects selling only surplus power. The state commission explained that since the latter take advantage of subsidies for capital cost from the state government, it would be unfair to compare it with projects which are set up to sell power to distribution licensees exclusively.
The Commission also observed that setting up any rooftop solar system by consumers in the state would require net metering for energy accounting and the sale of surplus power. It added that to set rates for any consumer category, it would be necessary to amend regulations per the law.
The Commission agreed that rooftop solar must be promoted among consumers for consumption purposes and that surplus power, if any, must be compensated for by the licensee at a reasonable price. However, that said, it cannot overlook the fact that the revenue of licensees is also affected as the electricity sale to those consumers who are using rooftop solar is reduced.
In conclusion, the commission stated that it would start working on a draft amendment and that it would invite objections and suggestions on the draft per the regulations and that all stakeholders will get an opportunity to provide feedback on the draft.
In November, the GERC had heard another petition for bringing modifications to the GERC regulations for net metering and a 2017 order dealing with tariff determination for the procurement of power by the distribution licensees from solar projects. The commission had acknowledged the ambiguity in the regulations and stated that the matter would be further examined.
Net metering is a crucial tool for achieving the 40 GW target set for rooftop solar projects by the end of 2022. In the past, Mercom has reported on how net metering regulations are limiting the growth of this fledgling sector.
Earlier, the GERC dismissed a petition for the 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. In its order, the commission had admitted that there were incongruities in the state’s regulations regarding the purchase of power and had said that it would examine the issue in detail.
According to GEDA, Gujarat has over 400 MW of solar rooftop installed capacity as of Nov 2019.
Mercom India Research’s newly released Q3 2019 India Solar Market Update, rooftop solar installations declined by just 16% QoQ in Q3 2019, totaling 245 MW compared to 292 MW in Q2 2019. Rooftop solar installations fell by 44% YoY compared to 435 MW installed in Q3 2018. The top 10 states accounted for 77.4% of total rooftop solar installations in India as of Q3 2019. Gujarat stood at the top position, and Karnataka was at the second spot.
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.