Solar panel companies are facing shutdowns due to delays caused by MSEDCL, prompting the consumers to end up blaming the former. Power utility admits to the problem, assures solution
While the government has blown its trumpet about promoting green energy and declared schemes for this purpose, it appears things on ground are not proceeding very smoothly. Now, a group of solar panel installers in the city have come together and written to Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, claiming that all tall promises made about renewable energy have remained on paper, as delays by the Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (MSEDCL) have caused them so much suffering that several companies are on the verge of shutting down.
Meanwhile, the power utility has admitted to this problem, but assured that it will be resolved “soon”.
In a bid to promote green energy, the Centre and many states had promulgated various schemes in 2015, including 30 per cent subsidies and discounts for the installation of solar plants. The government on its part installed large plants to supply electricity to their offices, and individuals responded positively, too, considering the benefits.
Three years down the line, it’s not just consumers, but also installers who are irked by disruptions caused by the authorities. Their main complaint is that while solar panel installations are supposed to take just about a month, putting the essential net meters connected to them in place is costing them an average of six months.
As per the process, installers on behalf of consumers file an online application, following which MSEDCL processes the proposal. A report is prepared by a technical assistant from the latter, taking three days at most. A survey of the site and unit is also to be done, and after the report is submitted, power officials get meters installed and tested. This net meter measures solar power generated and supplied to MSEDCL, as well as electricity consumed, all of which goes towards calculating the bill. If an individual has consumed less conventional power and supplied more units of electricity from their solar plant, s/he is liable to receive benefits at the end of the year.
But net meters take forever to install, said Electrical Contractors and Solar Installers Association member Yogesh Soman, adding, “It really shouldn’t take more than a month — instead, we are left hanging for half a year. Consumers not only lose benefits but become sceptical about the whole procedure. They keep questioning us about delays, although we are not responsible for them. It hampers our business.”
The installers have united in an informal forum to campaign against this hassle, calling themselves the Confederation of Solar Installers. One of the members, Ishaan Shahade, said, “We are forced to constantly follow up with MSEDCL, whose officers keep dropping excuses. Meanwhile, customers blame us. MSEDCL hardly ever responds, sending us from one official to another. Their delays push ahead the functioning of any unit. We came into this business with many hopes, but all we are finding is chaos.”
Similarly, Maharashtra Solar Manufacturers Association president Sanjay Kulkarni said, “When the government announced their renewable energy schemes, we were heartened. Now, several installers have shut shop. Besides writing to the CM, we are also writing to MSEDCL. If nothing is done, we will have to decide on a concerted further course of action.”
Meanwhile, MSEDCL confessed to these delays. Its chief public relations officer (PRO), PS Patil, asserted to Mirror, “The government is very serious about promoting green energy. We have appointed special officers at places where projects are going on. We will have to see what the reasons for all these delays are. We will take serious cognisance of complaints by installers and ensure the issue doesn’t occur in future.”