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Power may get dearer for societies with solar panels

 

The state government-owned power distribution utility Mahavitaran has sought permission from regulator Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) to impose a so-called grid stability charge on housing societies with rooftop solar panels.

Mahavitaran made this proposal in a tariff plan submitted on January 15. It justified the new charge by claiming that demand for power had dropped due to solar panels, even as it had already incurred expenses on installing distribution networks for the housing societies.

Consumer organisations opposed Mahavitaran’s move and called it unjustifiable. The organisations also said the decision was against the national mission to promote clean energy and reduce emission of greenhouse gases.

Mahavitaran asked an additional charge of Rs 4.47 to be levied over and above the regular tariff on these societies. At present the societies and Mahavitaran follow a system called net metering for billing. This means, for example, if the society produces 100 units per month through solar panels, but overall consumes 200 units, then Mahavitaran charges it only for 100 units.

There are around 1,000 societies in Maharashtra with rooftop panels.

“Mahavitaran’s claim that, due to housing societies using rooftop solar panel, there has been a drop in demand is absolutely ludicrous,” Ashok Pendse, designated consumer representative with MERC.

“The state’s daily demand is around 19,000 MW and power generated through rooftop solar panels is not even 10 MW. 

“Even cross-subsidy surcharge levied on open access is not more than Rs 2 per unit, then what is the logic behind imposing such a steep charge on societies?” the consumer representative said.

Consumers whose daily consumption is more than one MW can directly buy power from generators, bypassing the distribution utility. This system is called ‘open access’.

“These days talking about climate change and greenhouse gases has become fashionable. Here you have some housing societies doing their bit for the environment and they are being penalised for it,” Pendse said.

Referred from economic times, dated 27 Jan 2020

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