The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has notified that it is soon going to announce the new benchmark cost for off-grid solar photovoltaic (PV) systems and rooftop solar projects for the financial year (FY) 2018-19.
According to a release issued by the ministry, it is now in the process of finalizing the new benchmark costs for the current financial year.
As reported previously by Mercom, in the previous fiscal year, the benchmark costs for small-scale, rooftop and off-grid solar projects came into effect on March 20, 2017.
The new benchmark costs will apply to all the implementing agencies which are involved in developing projects awarded under the off-grid and decentralized solar program as well as those developing rooftop solar and small solar projects, but have not issued the work order/LoA to date.
When contacted, an MNRE official said, “We review the costs ever year and issue benchmark costs based on market dynamics. Plus, this order will also help remove confusion pertaining to applicable benchmark tariffs for some projects that are behind schedule. By behind schedule, I mean capacities have been awarded but LoAs are pending.”
“Off-grid, rooftop and small scale solar projects will be integral for 100 percent electrification of India. It is necessary that the policies, guidelines, and costs are revisited regularly to ascertain maximum growth of the sector,” added the MNRE official.
In its notification, the MNRE stated, “All sanctioned projects for which the work orders/LoAs will be issued from April 20, 2018, onwards will be eligible for Central Financial Assistance (CFA) as per new benchmark cost for FY 2018-19.”
The MNRE, in another notification, has asked all the implementing agencies in the country to adhere to the grid-connected rooftop (GCRT) solar guidelines. The ministry has observed that in some cases, the work orders have been issued on benchmark costs, without going through a transparent bidding process for price discovery.
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Saumy is a senior staff reporter with MercomIndia.com covering business and energy news since 2016. Prior to Mercom, Saumy was a copy editor at Thomson Reuters. Saumy earned his Bachelors Degree in Journalism & Mass Communication from the Manipal Institute of Communication at Manipal University. More articles from Saumy Prateek.