Solar Power Consumers Cannot Use Open Access and Net Metering at the Same Time

A ruling by the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) has clarified that generators cannot use both Open Access and Net Metering simultaneously. The commission also reiterated that benefits of net-metering are limited to rooftop solar installations of only up to 1 MW. For generators who have project capacities of 1 MW and above, open access is the way to go.

MERC was responding to a petition filed by CleanMax Solar to grant net metering permission for a 991 kW rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) project at Asahi India Glass Limited (Asahi) situated at MIDC- Taloja, Raigad, Maharashtra.

Prior to the development of the rooftop solar PV project, Asahi was a customer of Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Co. Ltd (MSEDCL) with a contract demand of 7,500 kVA connected at 100 kV. Asahi also avails partial open access of 3,000 kVA from conventional sources under a group captive arrangement from Sai Wardha Power Generation Limited (SWPGL).

Rejecting CleanMax’s petition, MERC noted, “Net metering and open access are two different sets of arrangements for different eligible consumers and its regulatory framework has also been provided by the two different regulations. If these two arrangements are mixed up, then there are various issues related to grid security, accounting, billing, settlement, etc. Hence, the commission has made net metering regulations for “below 1 MW” and open access for “1 MW and above” and these cannot be availed simultaneously by the same consumer.”

The order carefully draws a line between net metering and open access, in this case partial open access. It has helped remove a major misconception and can be cited in similar cases where a consumer with partial open access wants net metering.

This order by MERC provides guidance to new commercial and industrial consumers who are turning to rooftop solar PV for their energy needs, as well as rooftop project developers and contractors.

The MERC recently rejected a petition by Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), a government of India Enterprise under the Ministry of Defence (MoD), which was requesting net metering clearance for a 3 MW solar power project on the Ordinance Ammunition Factory in Khadki (AFK), Pune.