The association organized a press conference on December 13, 2019, where they laid out their grievances following the KERC order. Following this, they met with the chairman of the commission to communicate their issues with the order passed.
Earlier on December 9, 2019, the state issued an order as an attempt to accelerate capacity additions in the rooftop solar segment. But the order hasn’t gone down well with the rooftop solar installers.
The commission issued the order that proposes various business models. The commission also felt that there is a need for a proactive and constructive role by the distribution licensees to facilitate smaller consumers to install solar systems at an optimal cost, either through investment from the consumers or through third party investments by the distribution licensees themselves.
In the order, the commission has broadly categorized the different models as utility centric business model, consumer-centric, or third party owned (RESCO) models.
“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, it states. The consumer loses the right to choose his supplier, which is not the right way to go,” Ramesh Shivanna, President of the association said.
The association also believes that the commission has no business to ensure that DISCOMs make profits by emasculating power from other sources, and as the order is not a tariff order, the commission has no rights to extend it to non-tariff matters.
The association also feels that the consumer who opts for rooftop solar will have to choose an EPC provider determined by the DISCOM, which is against the free market principles.
The association is vehemently protesting against the reverse auction mechanism stipulated in the order, which gives the consumers the chance to choose the best price for a rooftop solar project. The association feels that the reverse bidding is unworkable as each project is unique, and it will be impossible for DISCOMs to float a bidding process for such projects.
On the cross-subsidy charge, the association is of the view that it is against the economic viability of investment either by third-party or consumer.
The association has alleged that the shift from net metering to gross metering will deal a fatal blow to the viability of solar rooftop installations. They feel that the tariff determined at ₹3.07 (~$0.043) is far too low to attract any investor.
The association feels that the open access for the third-party funded solar systems will kill the growth of the solar sector in Karnataka.
Currently, rooftop solar installations in Karnataka account for 234 MW against the target capacity of 2,400 MW by March 2021.
It’s not just in Karnataka where the tussle between the rooftop solar industry and the distribution companies (DISCOMs) has escalated. The discord has intensified in Maharashtra as well, with both sides adamant on not ceding their ground. The Maharashtra Solar Sangathan (MSS), Nagpur, has vehemently opposed the state’s proposal to roll back net metering for all segments except residential. The body has alleged that the draft regulations are “an attempt by the DISCOM to kill the rooftop industry with the sole objective of minimizing their losses and continue with the luxury of inefficient management.”
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).