MERC’s Take On Solar Rooftop Sets The Benchmark

In a critical decision for solar rooftop sector in Maharashtra, the state regulator, Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) has settled the Grid Support Charge (GSC) issue for good, it seems. With this, state consumers and installers can hope for a much better time for solar rooftops, hopefully.

The announcement, hidden deep in the detailed tariff order for Maharashtra for the 2021-2022 period, was met with a huge sigh of relief by state stakeholders.

The GSC had been proposed by a key state discom, MSEDCL, to allegedly compensate the discom for energy injections in the grid from rooftop solar, which was claimed to be a ‘risk’. However, it was apparent that the key intention here was to choke off the solar rooftop demand, by simply making it unviable.  Back in November, the state had also seen the idea of reverting to gross metering, which again was shot down after much protests in December by the MERC.

MSEDCL, in February, had proposed a GSC of Rs 8.66 per unit on solar rooftops of over 10 KW size. That would have killed the sector in one blow, for obvious reasons.

Now, the  commission has approved a banking charge in kind in the form of energy adjustment of 7.5% for HT and 12% for LT of the excess generated energy fed back into the grid.

Additional fixed charges on behind the meter rooftop solar is exempted with a focus on registering such installation primarily for grid security.

State solar bodies like the  Maha Solar Sangathan (MSS) had raised concerns over  these moves regularly, besides independent industry experts.

With this decision, the MERC has set a benchmark for other states to follow, as rooftop solar continues to get step motherly treatment across states. Even in states where on paper the rules enable it, process delays have been a major put off for many prospective users. Making the need for a national portal for rooftop solar users to provide a single window clearance all the more important as an idea whose time has come. Subsidy releases, as long as they happen through discoms that are, at heart, still not comfortable with the idea of customers producing their own power and selling it to the discom, have to be taken away. In fact, we have increasingly been hearing industry voices that have gone to the extent of saying do away with the subsidies, as long as the rest of the process can move faster, ideally a 30 day period from application to final approval.

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