Nagpur: Vidarbha Taxpayers Association (VTA) has claimed that energy minister Chandrashekhar Bawankule assured its members to withdraw surcharge on solar rooftop consumers. According to Association members the minister talked to Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) chairman Mukesh Khullar and asked him not to approve the surcharge.
A source in Bawankule’s office said that the minister had given an assurance to VTA. However, the minister told TOI that he had only accepted a submission and had not given any assurance.
Bawankule had launched the solar rooftop policy in 2015 to promote green energy. It was getting good response from consumers, which unnerved MSEDCL and it proposed to levy a surcharge (wheeling charge) at the rate of Rs1.25 per unit. It also proposed to go in for gross metering instead of net. If the two proposals are accepted by MERC, solar rooftop will become unviable and consumers who have invested lakhs on solar panels will be put to great loss.
A delegation of VTA led by its president JP Sharma met Bawankule on Sunday morning to discuss this issue. Sharma pointed out to the minister that Maharashtra Energy Development Agency (MEDA), a Government of Maharashtra undertaking, was installing several solar rooftop panels for promoting green energy.
Secretary Tejinder Singh Renu said that when a prosumer installed a solar rooftop unit, the entire expenditure was incurred by the prosumer including giving up of terrace / ground space and capital investment. The prosumer pays for the net meter as well as wiring, labour, etc, hence levying surcharge on it is absolutely illogical.
VTA requested Bawankule to direct MSEDCL to withdraw their proposal before MERC for levy of surcharge on solar rooftop prosumers. Likewise MSEDCL should also be directed to continue with net metering and drop the proposal for going in for gross metering. Instead Prosumer should be allowed to decide whether to continue with net metering or shift to gross metering.
A press release issued by Renu claimed that Bawankule called up MERC chairman Mukesh Khullar and said that when state government was promoting solar energy, levying wheeling charge was not right.
Several consumers had opposed MSEDCL’s proposal of levying surcharge and gross metering during MERC’s public hearings held last month.