The ambitious rooftop solar initiative of Andhra Pradesh Eastern Power Distribution Company Limited (APEDPCL) appears to have not clicked as desired. And more importantly the people who have installed the solar units are facing a number of teething problems including the billing through net metering.
Following Prime Minister’s Narendra Modi’s dream of producing 100 GW, which includes 40 GW from rooftop, APEPDCL was given a stiff target of 3.5 MW in 2015 and the discom could achieve about 1.5 MW across the five districts. In 2016, the target has been raised to 84 MW and the discom till date could achieve about 3.1 MW.
According to discom officials, the target appears to be unrealistic and it is likely to be revised to 10 MW.
But while target is just one part of the story, the main issue is customer satisfaction.
According to Dr. Suresh Somayajula, Convenor of BJP Solar Power Promotion Committee, the people who have opted for rooftop solar installations are still to get the deduction in the monthly bill.
As per the initiative, consumers who have opted for solar power, pumps the excess power generated from the solar unit into the grid and the amount equivalent is to be deducted from the monthly power bill.
The power taken from the grid is import power and the excess power that flows from the rooftop solar plant to the grid is export power. If the export power is less than the import power, then the consumer has to be charged after deducting the value of the export power. And if it is other way, then the discom has to pay. The import and export power can be assessed from the net metering and so far none of the consumers have seen it happen.
Agreeing that there is teething problem, a senior discom official handling the solar initiative said, “A majority of the billing executives are tenth or Intermediate pass, and they are not trained to handle the bi-directional net metering system. We are training them division-wise,” he said.
Another aspect troubling the consumers is the feasibility report. Unless we get the feasibility report, which is to be given within seven days, the 30 per cent subsidy from MNRE (Ministry of New and Renewable Energy) and 20 per cent from NREDCAP, is not released. And to circumvent the delay, APEPDCL authorities say that delay is to be treated as deemed approval. But NREDCAP do not accept it and they demand the feasibility report, said Dr. Suresh.
There is also a shortage of net meters in the discom. As of now there are about 178 rooftop connections in the five districts under the discom, with about 116 in Visakhapatnam city alone and another 347 applications are pending.
Apart from shortage of meters, the consumers are also facing problem of getting the meters checked and calibrated at the discom’s Simhachalam facility. “It would be better if they allot us checked and calibrated meters,” said a consumer.
According to Mr. Nageswara Rao, ADE of APEPDCL, this aspect has been addressed.