The Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) has issued an order saying that it will initiate a public consultative process to amend the net-metering regulations and frame new ones for dealing with issues related to grid-connected renewable energy sources.
The MERC issued the order after examining a petition filed by the Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Co. Ltd (MSEDCL). MSEDCL had requested MERC to provide necessary amendments in the “Net Metering Regulations 2015” by replacing net-metering with gross-metering to safeguard any additional burden on the consumers and applying wheeling charges and losses on the banked units of energy by net-metered consumers for the recovery of distribution infrastructure cost.
While examining the petition and submissions made by the MSEDCL, the MERC observed, “MSEDCL filed the petition to highlight adverse implication of net-metering regulations that can occur if exponential growth in consumers opting for solar rooftop under net-metering arrangement continues in coming years.”
MERC further noted that the MSEDCL highlighted not only financial implications but also mentioned technical issues relating to grid operations on account of increased penetration of rooftop solar PV. On the technical issues, MSEDCL generally mentioned the adverse impact without giving any details in technical terminologies and the numbers. Also, the MSEDCL mentioned the requirement of large funds to offset the adverse technical impact due to the penetration of solar rooftop PV but did not give any details about measures implemented and cost involved for the same.
MERC also noted that at present, only high-end consumers are opting for rooftop solar PV through the net-metering arrangement to reduce their electricity bill. Although it is beneficial for such consumers, it reduces the ability of the distribution licensee to subsidize low-end consumers. With an increasing number of high-end consumers opting for solar rooftop PV through the net-metering arrangement, this issue can adversely affect the delicate cross-subsidy balance.
MERC also observed that the Forum of Regulators (FoR) has recommended changing the existing net-metering system to net billing.
The commission stated that existing regulations which enabled net-metering arrangement has created sufficient awareness amongst the consumers. Though there is merit in the submissions of MSEDCL, a balance has to be maintained while promoting renewable energy including rooftop solar PV and addressing the key concerns including the technical concerns raised by the MSEDCL.
It also stated that since the present net-metering regulations are in force, any amendments can be taken up through a public consultative process only.
In February 2019, responding to a petition filed by MSEDCL, MERC issued an order directing MSEDCL to reduce ₹0.18 (0.0025/kWh) from the discovered tariff if the bidders have not paid the safeguard duty.