Consumers suffer as KERC yet to finalise PPA

Green energy woes

The recent revision made by Karnataka Electricity Regulatory Commission (KERC) to the existing policy of solar roof top system has reportedly created not only confusion among the consumers, but also forced potential customers to think twice before going for the ambitious initiative of the government.

The old policy offered net metering for all customers, wherein after the domestic use of solar power by the customer, the excess power could be supplied to the grid, for which, the customer will be paid.

However, in the revised policy – signed on May 2, 2016 – for domestic, educational institutions and hospitals, net metering has been replaced by gross metering. Now, all of the solar power generated by the customers would go to the grid. For domestic use, the customers will have to receive power from the grid as per existing slab system.

The earlier tariff fixed by the KERC had only two slabs – one for rooftop plants set up without capital subsidy (Rs 9.56 per unit) and another with capital subsidy (Rs 7.20 per unit). The revised tariff varies from Rs 7.08 per unit to Rs 5.20 per unit for solar rooftop photovoltaic plants without subsidy.

Some customers, whom this correspondent spoke to, were not even sure whether there would be two separate bills or a net bill (plus or minus) to the customer.

On the other hand, there are many customers who have submitted the applications for solar power generation with Mescom in the month of March and April 2016, much before the new policy came into existence. Although they have been requesting the Mescom authorities for commissioning of their project as per the existing policy, their applications are still pending because the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), billing format and schematic diagram are not ready for gross metering with the ‘Power’ authorities.

Although gross metering is more profitable for domestic, hospital and educational institutions, it is a clear case of putting the cart before the horse, says an entrepreneur, who is into dealing with solar equipment.

Veera Pinto, a resident of Kadri, told Deccan Herald that she installed a 5-KW plant on her roof top by spending about Rs 4,85,000 after obtaining loan, however, till date, she has not received the papers.

Similarly, Pradeep Kumar Shetty, a resident of Mulihitlu in city said that he installed a 10-KW plant by obtaining more than Rs 9 lakh loan in the month of April, but is waiting for the documents. “What is the point in installing the plant when I am not able to use it for the last three months?” he said and regretted that a lot of power is being wasted as the power generated could not be transferred to the grid.

When contacted, Chikkananjappa, Mescom managing director, said that he is aware of the problem and has already brought the same to the notice of Karnataka Electricity Regulatory Commission, which is responsible for PPA. “We have even requested to give us a go-ahead to issue old PPA and generate power supply, and then take steps once the new PPA comes,” he said and added that the Mescom is waiting for a reply from the KERC.

On the other hand, KERC secretary Capt Rajendra said that a meeting will be convened in this regard on July 5 and the anomalies will be set right.

According to sources, the KERC has launched the gross metering system in a hurry, without a PPA and other formats. As a result, many customers are in a state of confusion. The sad part is that many customers have taken bank loans and pay interest on loans without getting the benefit.

At a time when the authorities concerned have been taking steps to convince the members of the public to go for solar power use and generation, such a move would disinterest the public from going for solar power. This will, in turn, add on to the existing power crises in the days to come, unless the authorities concerned take quick steps in realising user-friendly and user-benefit policies.
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