Maharashtra Metro Rail Corporation Limited (MMRCL) will have to rethink its plan to install solar power plants on its premise. Its plan is to install 23 MWp so as to meet 65% of its energy requirement in the future. The corporation wanted to install the entire capacity connected to the grid through net-meter. MERC has however rejected the prayer of MMRCL as its plans do not meet the regulatory requirements. It, therefore, needs to change its course of action for installation of rooftop solar plants.
MMRCL planned to install 23 MW rooftop solar plant under the net-meter arrangement. In its prayer to MERC it had presented the capacity breakdown as follows:
Only 26% capacity forms rooftop solar plants. Still, MMRCL wants to connect the entire capacity to the grid through a net-meter. It claimed that it can consume entire solar energy generation leaving a little scope for feeding energy into the grid. Therefore its installation won’t render the grid unstable. For this reason, the MMRCL has sought relaxation in norms of rooftop solar regulation.
According to these regulations, Eligible Consumer means a consumer of electricity in the area of supply of the Distribution Licensee who uses or intends to use a Solar Photo Voltaic (‘PV’) generating System having a capacity less than 1 MW, installed on a roof-top or any other mounting structure in his premises, to meet all or part of his own electricity requirement, and includes a Consumer catering to a common load such as a Housing Society :
Provided that such generating System may be owned and/or operated by such Consumer, or by a third party leasing such System to the Consumer.
With this very definition, MMRCL prayer for seeking relaxation on rooftop solar capacity becomes ineffective!!!
First, an eligible consumer is the consumer of distribution licensee which is MSEDCL in this case. MMRCL seeks connectivity at two points: with the MSETCL network at 132 kV and with the MSEDCL network at 33 kV. Wherever MMRCL is connected to MSETCL, it ceases to be the consumer of MSEDCL in that area and as such, it cannot install rooftop solar plant through the net-meter in those areas. Thus it cannot install an entire 23 MW rooftop plant with a net-meter arrangement.
Second, the regulation also states that an eligible consumer in the areas other than Mumbai metropolitan region and connected to MSEDCL network above 11 kV can install rooftop solar capacities between 80 kWp/100 kVA to 1000 kVA. Thus it cannot install a rooftop solar plant more than 1 MWp at any of its premises.
Third, consumer should cater to a common load which in this case does not exist.
Further, premise means and includes roof-tops or any areas on the land, building or infrastructure or part or combination thereof in respect of which a separate meter has been provided by the Distribution Licensee for the supply of electricity.
Note here that the premise has a separate meter provided by the distribution licensee. But the premises of MMRCL, are scattered. Therefore a single and separate meter for the purpose of connecting rooftop solar is technically not feasible.
A few months back team SolarDae had asked the question whether regulations slack the growth of rooftop solar? (Read). Yes, they do, but they also justify their restrictions on rooftop solar capacities or at least this case of MMRCL v/s MSETCL/MSEDCL justifies the restriction.
Also, mainstream media has reported this case as a setback to MMRCL which is wrong. MMRCL just needs to change its plan to install rooftop solar plants and other solar projects. Team SolarDae will soon undertake an analysis of savings of MMRCL from using these plants. The team also recommends consumers to acquaint themselves with rooftop solar regulations.