RERC Invites CSR Funding to Energise Schools in Rajasthan With Solar

In a follow up to its draft order issued on February 10, regarding provision of solar plants at schools that are off grid or have very poor grid connectivity, the Rajasthan Electricity Regulatory Commission (RERC), in an order on March 25, has responded to suggestions as well as queries from stakeholders. The order has followed the shortfall in the state discoms meeting their RPO obligations, effectively forcing the regulator to take matters into its own hands.

RPO targets and achievements for Rajasthan

The RPO Story In Rajasthan

Thus, to a suggestion from the World Resources Institute (WRI), to add a storage component to these systems where possible to allow schools to adopt other extracurricular activities during non-school hours, the commission agreed. RERC Solar Schools

Similarly, queries from the discom Jaipur Vidyut Vitran Nigam Limited (JVVNL) on issues like cross-subsidy surcharges payable on such generation even if it doesn’t use the grid, and to count such power as part of the discoms Renewable Purchase Obligation (RPO) target, were both tackled. To the former, the commission has clarified that corporates using CSR funds to set up such systems will transfer ownership of the same to the school, and hence not be liable to pay any cross subsidy surcharge on generation. To the latter query from JVVNL, it allowed all such generation, even where there is no net metering or grid connectivity, to be counted towards the RPO obligations. An annual rate of 1762 units/KW/year or 4.8 units per KW has been considered for calculating generation for self use that will be counted under RPO for the discom too.

These clarifications, and by clearly allowing and specifying the method and use of CSR funds by corporates (Besides the state government) for such installations, the RERC has set a great example for other states to follow. Speaking to developers in the state, we were told that the overall potential in just the schools that meet the criteria of being off-grid, or with dysfunctional grid connectivity, is well over 1500 schools. At even between 5KW to 20 KW per school, developers are confident that more than 15 MW can be installed in just a year if corporates take up the offer.

For corporates in the state as well as those outside, this is a great opportunity to direct their CSR spending towards a long-term, sustainable cause that will truly have an impact on the well-being of the next generation. With costs having dropped considerably, sponsoring a single school for a 5 KW system, for instance, could cost as little as Rs 150,000 to Rs 400,000, depending on whether the system has storage or not.

Note: At SaurEnergy, we have been part of projects that have considered the feasibility of just such a measure by corporates, across states like Haryana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Tamil Nadu. For any corporates that are interested, we will be happy to share our learnings and the way to go about it.

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Prasanna Singh

Prasanna has been a media professional for over 20 years. He is the Group Editor of Saur Energy International

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