WBERC net metering

The West Bengal Electricity Regulatory Commission (WBERC) has set a feed-in tariff of ₹3.20 (~$0.042)/kWh for solar projects below 5 MW capacity. The feed-in tariff will be reviewed annually.

In another order, the Commission extended the date for the net metering arrangement for projects up to 5 kW until December 31, 2021. Earlier, the Commission had ruled that consumers who installed solar photovoltaic systems before June 30, 2021, would be eligible for the net metering facility.

Background

The WBERC issued the first amendment to the ‘Cogeneration and Generation of Electricity from Renewable Sources of Energy Regulations, 2020’ on December 21, 2020. The amendment specified that consumers having contract demand up to 5 kW could install solar systems under the net metering arrangement. Also, consumers (except agricultural consumers) having approved load above 5 kW were allowed to set up solar systems under the net billing (gross metering) arrangement.


The Commission had also said that all agricultural consumers could install solar systems under the net metering arrangement.

It also stated that distribution companies (DISCOMs) could purchase power from grid-connected solar projects within the state below the notified capacity for competitive bidding within the limit of the feed-in tariff to be specified by the Commission.

In February this year, the Commission issued a discussion paper inviting suggestions from stakeholders to determine generic tariff under net billing (less than 1 MW) and feed-in-tariff for 1 MW to 5 MW capacity.

In their submissions, engineering, procurement, and construction companies stated that as per the amendment, the Commission had restricted the upper limit for net metering to 5 kW, whereas previously, there was no cap. They also said that under the net billing (gross metering) arrangement, the entire power generated by the consumer was to be sold to the DISCOM and then bought back by the consumer at a different tariff without any special service provided by the DISCOM. They also suggested that the cost-plus approach was inappropriate for solar projects with less than 5 MW capacity because of the vast array of consumers the DISCOMs served.

The West Bengal State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (WBSEDCL) suggested that the feed-in-tariff or the generic tariff should be compared with the pool variable cost and not with the pool cost of DISCOM. The DISCOM also claimed that the proposed feed-in tariff would increase the power pool cost for DISCOMs since the rate would be more than the variable cost of thermal power.

Commission’s analysis

The Commission observed that the issues related to net metering were discussed in detail in the first amendment of the regulations, and the present exercise was limited to the determination of feed-in-tariff for solar projects below 5 MW.

The Commission added that the generic tariff based on the average power purchase cost was a tariff-neutral approach and was easy to implement.

The regulator said it was in favor of adopting the average power purchase cost-based approach to determine the generic tariff for rooftop solar under net metering.

Considering all the factors, the Commission arrived at the feed-in tariff of ₹3.20 (~$0.042)/kWh for capacity up to 5 MW. It noted that the generic tariff for net billing would be equal to the average power purchase cost. The DISCOM should enter into a power purchase agreement with the consumer under net billing with the applicable tariff per the first amendment.

In June this year, the Ministry of Power issued an amendment to the Electricity (Rights of Consumers) 2020 Rules concerning net metering for rooftop solar installations. The amendment permits net metering to the prosumer for loads up to 500 kW or up to the sanctioned load, whichever is lower.

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