Featured Image Source: Flickr/Rooftop Solar
Tamil Nadu Electricity Regulatory Commission (TNERC) has passed a new order on net-metering for rooftop solar plants. The new schemes of the solar policy notified in the order are applicable to new applicants. Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (TANGEDCO) the state utility had petitioned before the commission for making changes in the solar policy of the state which was announced in 2013. The utility’s major contention was commercial arrangements in the policy due to which it had been bearing the financial losses. Under the net-meter connection, a utility has to compensate its consumer for exporting surplus solar energy to the grid. TANGEDCO had been compensating its consumers at the same rates that existed during 2013. However, the cost of solar energy has crashed drastically since then.
Considering this TNERC has ruled that TANGEDCO will compensate for surplus energy at 75% of the feed-in tariff as decided by the commission from time to time.
Solardae’s Take on rooftop solar order
The case of TANGEDCO is an example for every state. There is a pressing need to create awareness among stakeholders regarding the commercial settlement.
DISCOM’s should be proactive every financial year to petition before the state regulatory commission for revising tariff for settling the commercial transactions related to the rooftop solar. and in no case, this tariff should be higher than a DISCOMs’ Average Pooled Power Cost (APPC). This will protect DISCOM’s interest.
On the other hand, consumers must understand that solar power plants with net meter connection on their rooftop save their electricity cost. The purpose of using them is not to sell the energy to the utility but to consume them. Financially state DISCOMS including TANGEDCO are fragile. They cannot forever pay the consumers who feed solar energy into the grid. The possibility exists only in the gross meter connection where a consumer sells entire energy to the grid.
A regulatory commission should remove the restriction on rooftop solar capacity with proper consideration to the electric grid safety. Tamil Nadu Energy Development Agency (TEDA) has plans to utilise the rooftop spaces of educational institutions for installing solar power plants of capacities higher than 1 MW. Higher capacities achieve economies of scale and therefore the tariffs are less.