Four leading solar developers in the state have petitioned the Appellate Tribunal for Electricity (APTEL) against the Karnataka Electricity Regulatory Commission’s (KERC) order, which was issued in December 2019.
The developers including, Amplus Solar, Fourth Partner Energy, Renew Power, and Cleantech Solar, have filed petitions separately, requesting the Commission to bring all the stakeholders on board before coming to any conclusion.
Speaking to Mercom, a senior executive at Fourth Partner Energy, said, “It’s true that Fourth Partner Energy and three other developers have filed petitions with APTEL against the KERC order which is not in favor of solar developers in the state and is regressive. The government-owned DISCOMs like Bangalore Electricity Supply Company (BESCOM), which will act as an aggregator, should not be allowed to take away the right of the consumers to choose.”
“Another important point of contention is the government’s decision to do away with the net metering and shift to gross metering, which will deal a death blow to the solar developers in the state. Also, the tariff of ₹3.07 (~$0.042)/kWh is very low to attract any investors. Moreover, the consumer will have to choose an EPC provider determined by the DISCOM, which is not correct,” the executive added.
In December last year, the KERC had issued an order which proposes various business models for rooftop solar. The Commission also felt that there was a need for a proactive and constructive role by the distribution licensees to facilitate smaller consumers to install solar systems at optimal cost, either through investment form the consumers or through third party investments by the distribution licensees themselves.
In its order, the Commission said that the sale of energy by a third-party investor to the consumer would attract the payment of cross-subsidy surcharge and additional surcharge. The commission also notes that the exemption from levying such charges for a limited period might be granted in case of all low tension (LT) domestic consumers. However, for other consumers with gross metering, the question of levying cross-subsidy surcharge and additional surcharge does not arise.
“Our main issue is regarding KERC’s decision to do away with net metering for industrial consumers. Net metering can’t be ruled out. KERC needs to sit down with all the stakeholders and come to a decision that is beneficial for all. It can’t be an ad-hoc decision. Presently, no new projects will take off if the Commission persists with the present order,” the executive noted.
The Karnataka Renewable Energy Systems Manufacturers Association (KRESMA) has been protesting vehemently against the order passed by KERC on rooftop solar.
“The order has made DISCOMs the sole arbiter, which takes away the right of the consumer to choose his supplier. The government-owned DISCOMs should not be allowed to take away the consumers’ profit from generating through renewable sources. The consumer loses the right to choose his supplier, which is not the right way to go,” Ramesh Shivanna, President of the association, had said at the time.
It’s not only Karnataka where the tussle between the rooftop solar industry and the distribution companies (DISCOMs) has reached a tipping point. In a twist to the ongoing dispute in Maharashtra, the Maha Solar Sangathan (MSS) has raised concerns over the proposed grid support charges (GSC), and requested the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) to ask the state DISCOM (MSEDCL) to explain that when the total handling cost of electricity is ₹0.70 (~$0.01)/kWh, why has the DISCOM proposed a hefty grid support charge to the tune of ₹8.66 (~$0.12)/kWh.
Currently, the rooftop installations in Karnataka account for 234 MW against the target capacity of 2.4 GW by March 2021, according to Mercom’s India Solar Project Tracker.
Rakesh is a staff reporter at Mercom India. Prior to joining Mercom, he worked in many roles as a business correspondent, assistant editor, senior content writer, and sub-editor with bcfocus.com, CIOReview/Silicon India, Verbinden Communication, and Bangalore Bias. Rakesh holds a Bachelor’s degree in English from Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU). More articles from Rakesh Ranjan.