March witnessed some big announcements in the Indian renewable industry. Several states issued a flurry of orders on relevant issues like RPO compliance and net-metering policies, which have helped the industry gain a better perspective on policies that are often confusing.

Here are the highlights and key policy announcements made by the central and state government agencies in the renewable energy sector in March 2019:

Center

The Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) has set generic tariffs for the purchase of electricity from a host of renewable energy generation sources during the financial year (FY) 2019-20. The levelized generic tariff will apply to small hydro projects, biomass with Rankine cycle projects, non-fossil fuel-based co-generation projects, biomass gasifiers, and biogas-based projects.

CERC also issued a notification for an amendment in the regulation for sharing of the inter-state transmission system (ISTS) charges and losses. The amended regulation will apply to projects commissioned between February 13, 2018, and March 31, 2022.

The President of India approved the launch of the second phase of the grid-connected rooftop solar photovoltaic program in India. The program aims to help achieve the target of 40 GW of rooftop solar PV capacity by 2022. Under phase-II, 38 GW of grid-connected rooftop solar PV capacity is expected to be installed.

The Union Cabinet approved the proposal for setting up a national mission on transformative mobility and battery storage initiatives along with the creation of Phased Manufacturing Program to promote domestic manufacturing of electric vehicles and related parts.

MNRE

The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has issued a set of guidelines to be followed by solar manufacturers for models of modules that will be utilized in government-owned projects and those set up for the sale of electricity to the government.

The MNRE has issued a memorandum proposing modifications to the guidelines issued for its Development of Solar Parks and Ultra Mega Solar Park Program, to address land evacuation issues. The MNRE has introduced a new mode (Mode-7) for the development of renewable energy (RE) parks that include wind, solar and hybrid energy through the Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI).

The MNRE has said it would soon come up with a blueprint for the utilization, manufacture, disposal, and import of solar module and glass containing antimony. MNRE’s decision comes on the heels of directions issued by the Principal Bench of the National Green Tribunal in Delhi.

States

The Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) ordered Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (MSEDCL) to comply with its solar renewable purchase obligation (RPO) requirement for FY 2017-18 by March 2020 to fulfill the solar RPO requirement of the year.

The Tamil Nadu Electricity Regulatory Commission (TNERC) has issued new net metering guidelines for solar rooftop consumers as part of its Solar Policy 2019. Under the new program, an eligible consumer can install the maximum capacity of solar rooftop up to 100 percent of his contracted demand with the distribution licensee.

The Andhra Pradesh Electricity Regulatory Commission (APERC) issued fourth amendments to its regulations on the interim balancing and settlement code for open access transactions. The new regulations have been in place since March 11, 2019.

APERC issued an order setting the variable cost of power generated from biomass, industrial waste, and bagasse-based power projects for the five years between April 1, 2019, and March 31, 2024. The variable cost for biomass-based power projects is set at ₹4.81 (~$0.070)/kWh, for bagasse-based power projects at ₹3.07 (~$0.045)/kWh and industrial waste-based power projects at ₹4.81 (~$0.070)/kWh.

The MERC has stated that the power generated by off-grid solar water pumps will be counted towards meeting the RPO of  MSEDCL. The commission observed that there is a provision for online monitoring mechanism under which the details of electricity generated and water utilization by the solar pumps are automatically made available to MSEDCL.

MERC issued the draft first amendments to its open access regulations relating to eligibility, banking, treatment of transmission and wheeling charges among others. These regulations will come into force from the date of their publication in the official gazette.

The Rajasthan Electricity Regulatory Commission (RERC) has issued new amendments to its regulations on renewable energy certificate and RPO compliance framework passed in 2010. As per the amended regulation, the purchase of electricity from the renewable energy generator under REC mechanism will not be counted towards the fulfillment of RPO.

The Himachal Pradesh Electricity Regulatory Commission (HPERC) has issued a draft order for rooftop solar grid-interactive systems based on net metering. This order will apply to those domestic consumers who have a letter of approval to install rooftop solar PV grid-interactive systems based on net metering issued after November 15, 2018, and who have subsequently installed these systems.

The Uttar Pradesh Electricity Regulatory Commission (UPERC) has approved the tariffs for electric vehicle charging in the state. According to the tariff order, all metered residential consumers under LMV-1 (Light Motor Vehicle) category will be allowed to charge EVs at their residences as long as the EV charging load does not exceed the contracted load for that residence.

The RERC has finalized new regulations to amend its terms and conditions for the determination of tariff for renewable energy sources – wind and solar energy. As per the regulation, the commission will determine project-specific tariff, on a case-to-case basis, for solar photovoltaic, solar thermal, wind and other renewable energy projects in Rajasthan.

The government of Gujarat approved a policy that aims to develop the state’s small-scale distributed solar PV sector. The Gujarat Energy Development Agency (GEDA) would be the nodal agency for implementation of this policy. Developers of such projects will also be made to submit a bank guarantee of ₹500,000 (~$7,137.75)/MW at the time of entering PPA.

The Haryana Renewable Energy Development Agency (HAREDA) has amended its guidelines for megawatt-scale ground-mounted and rooftop solar projects meant for captive consumption or third party sale. Under the policy guidelines, developers can install at any location in the state, but they must interconnect these projects with stations of 11 kV capacity or greater.

The RERC has amended its net metering regulations passed in the year 2015 for rooftop and small solar grid interactive systems. The commission has now included a provision on the payment to domestic consumers with net-metered rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) systems for the electricity injected.

 

Nitin is a staff reporter at Mercomindia.com and writes on renewable energy and related sectors. Prior to Mercom, Nitin has worked for CNN IBN, India News, Agricultural Spectrum and Bureaucracy Today. He received his bachelor’s degree in Journalism & Communication from Manipal Institute of Communication at Manipal University and Master’s degree in International Relations from Jindal School of International Affairs. More articles from Nitin Kabeer