Railway’s Petition Regarding 14 MW Rooftop PV Projects Dismissed

GERC has dismissed the petition filed by the Western Railway requesting relaxation in Gujarat’s net metering regulations.

Petition Dismissed

The Gujarat Electricity Regulatory Commission (GERC) has in its latest order has dismissed the petition filed by the Western Railway requesting the commissions’ involvement in granting relaxation in the state’s net metering regulations. The petition was filed against the Gujarat State Electricity Corporation Limited (GSECL).

In its petition, Western Railways had made the following prayers:

  1. Pass an order relaxing Regulation 6.1 (i) & (ii) as well as 6.2 of the Gujarat Electricity Regulatory Commission (Net Metering Rooftop Solar PV Grid Interactive Systems) Regulations, 2016 and/or any other Regulation as may be applicable, to the effect that there is no cap on the installed capacity of 1 MW on the rooftop solar PV systems in order to maximise the generation from the single roof of single consumer up to 100 percent of connected load with respect to the PPA entered into by the petitioner with Azure Power Forty Four is the Solar Power Developer (SPD) and,
  2. Permit the Azure to install 14 MW of rooftop solar plants in its establishment through Solar Power Developer on RESCO Model without there being any restriction stated in Regulations No. 6.1 (i) and (ii) and permit the Solar Power Developer to execute the same in terms of PPA entered into by and between the Petitioners and Solar Power Developer.

In its submission, the petitioner had submitted that it had proposed to install 14 MW of rooftop solar plants in its establishment through solar power developer (SPD) on RESCO Model i.e. Renewable Energy Services Company and that out of 14 MW, around 7.5 MW has been planned in the State of Gujarat. The Railways had then entered into contracts of about 10 MW for Solar Plants in PPP Model, wherein, Railways is providing its rooftop free of cost and the developer is to invest money to provide Solar Plants with Long Term PPA with the Railway in Gujarat.

However, the SPD is not able to install the solar panels as the Railways, as they are facing problem in getting clearance from the concerned department of the Government of Gujarat (GoG), since the Net Metering Regulations, 2016 do not provide or allow private agencies or private developers to supply the power into grid systems in the State of Gujarat.

Thus, in view of the existence of Net Metering Regulations, 2016, which prohibits private developers to supply the power and therefore private developers cannot install or provide Rooftop Solar Power Plants on RESCO Model in the State of Gujarat, a need arises for the Petitioner to approach the Commission seeking appropriate order in the present subject matter.

After repeated requests to remove this restriction, the Western Railways sent a letter stating that due to Gujarat’s non-cooperation in giving the clearance for net metering, Railways could not keep its commitment given in Parliament under the National Solar Mission. The petitioner also informed the state government that such clearances for net metering, which involved solar developers, had already been given by various states like Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, and Rajasthan.

The Commission after reviewing all its findings stated that while other states have allowed Railways to go ahead with the project under the RESCO model, it should be noted that each state has its own set of regulations and these are notified keeping in view the larger interest of the consumers. These states may have approved the petitioner’s request in line with their regulations, and that approval cannot be quoted as a precedent for seeking approval in another state, where the policies do not permit the RESCO model.

Further adding that net metering regulations aim to encourage small capacity consumers to set up rooftop solar systems up to 1 MW. As per the submissions of the petitioner and the respondents, they have not arrived at any conclusion on the implementation of their program for which the modalities have been defined. The program proposed has different conditions that do not align with net metering regulations of the state, and therefore it cannot relax or revise the provisions to accommodate their proposal. Further, the net metering regulation does not include the RESCO model, so the Commission cannot allow any relaxation to the petitioner.

“We, therefore, do not find any merit in the prayers of the present petition and the same are dismissed as rejected,” the order concluded.

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Ayush Verma

Ayush is a staff writer at saurenergy.com and writes on renewable energy with a special focus on solar and wind. Prior to this, as an engineering graduate trying to find his niche in the energy journalism segment, he worked as a correspondent for iamrenew.com.