MERC rejects surcharge on solar rooftop prosumers
Nagpur: In a major relief to solar rooftop consumers, Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) has rejected the proposal of Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Co Ltd (MSEDCL) to levy surcharge. (wheeling charge) on solar rooftop prosumers at the rate of Rs1.28 per unit. It has also not allowed the discom’s plea to go in for gross metering instead of net.
Had the two proposals been accepted it would have made solar rooftop power unviable.
The MSEDCL had contended that consumers whose consumption falls in higher tariff bracket (subsidizing consumers) prefer net metering facility. Installation of solar rooftop system brings them to lower consumption bracket and in subsidized tariff category thereby reducing MSEDCL’s revenue.
More and more consumers are becoming subsidized instead of subsidizing. As of now, 65% of residential consumers use less than 100 units per month and hence are subsidized ones.
Net metering of solar rooftop power will increase it further. This will result in loss of cross subsidy, which will be passed on to other consumers thereby increasing their tariff.
If gross metering is introduced for these consumers it would help in keeping the discom sales intact and in turn cross subsidy also. Since there would not be any reduction in sales of subsidizing consumers, MSEDCL would not lose revenue as well as cross subsidy provided by subsidizing consumers.
The discom had further stated that tariff difference between consumer tariff and levelized cost of solar energy generated was the major driving factor for adoption of net metering.
As tariff for low-end residential and agricultural consumers is low, there is no incentive for them to opt for net metering. Gross metering thus provides level playing field to all consumers for installation of rooftop systems and since more than 80% consumers are subsidized, gross metering will help in reaching them.
The commission ruled that the gross metering proposal is specifically linked to provisions stipulated under MERC (net metering for solar rooftop photo voltaic system) Regulations, 2015. The submission of MSEDCL can’t be addressed under the tariff review process.
The commission has also rejected MSEDCL’s proposal to levy surcharge on solar roof top prosumers though it has not given any reason for it.
Solar consultant Ajit Ganguly welcomed the MERC’s decision. “MSEDCL’s proposal was unwarranted and had sowed doubts in mind of prospective consumers. Commission has done the right thing,” he said.
Separate tariff category for EV charging stations
MERC has agreed to MSEDCL’s proposal of creating a separate tariff category for electric vehicle (EV) charging stations. These stations would be provided supply at high tension (HT) level and the tariff would be Rs6 per unit. In addition, time of the day (TOD) tariff will be applicable to it whereby the stations would get a discount of Rs1.50 per unit at night while the day tariff would attract a surcharge.