Solar tariff lowered in Karnataka, gross metering introduced for few consumers

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If you are planning to install a rooftop solar power generating system, you will get less money for selling excess solar energy into the grid. On Tuesday, the new tariff order issued by Karnataka Electricity Regulatory Commission (KERC) lowered the selling rate of solar power to Rs7.08/unit from Rs9.56/unit to the grid. This is for those consumers who have set up the system without subsidy and the production is upto 10 KW per day.

The new tariff is applicable to those consumers who sign their power purchase agreement (PPA) with the electricity supply companies (ESCOMs) between May 2, 2016 and March 31, 2018. The slab details that those who generate more get less rates.

The solar policy adopted by Karnataka in 2014-21 allows and encourages consumers to set up rooftop solar photovoltaic systems to consume for themselves and the excess power can be pushed to the grid for which they will be paid back by the ESCOM at a rate fixed by the electricity regulatory authority in the state. The previous rate fixed by the commission—Rs9.56 per unit, enthused many consumers to go for setting up a solar system and sell power to the state.

Bescom alone received 3179 applications from consumers to allow them set up solar systems but the utility signed PPAs with only 1575 applicants and at present the installed solar power in eight districts including Bengaluru under its supply area is 740 MW. In March, the company received a whopping 1395 applications that threatened the state government because the higher number of PPAs signed would drill holes in the treasuries of the distribution companies. The energy department sent out a circular saying that the solar capacity will be capped different classes of consumers.

The new tariff order also introduces gross metering system for domestic consumers, hospitals and educational institutions, wherein, the consumer will be paid for the total units of solar power uploaded to the grid. They are allowed to sell entire energy generated by their system to the ESCOMs irrespective of their self-consumption.

But for industrial and commercial consumers, net metering will continue and they will be allowed to sell suplus energy after their consumption to the grid only. The commission has also decided to allow to add 400 MW of aggregate solar power in state.

Energy expert MG Prabhakar said, “The lower tariff will not enthuse consumers to set u solar systems any more. The energy department is not thinking that it is okay to pay more to such consumers who are adding renewable energy to the state grid and helping in solving the power crisis of the state. Also, a lot of consumers do not get subsidy because of the corruption in the system even if they are deserving. Gross metering is the only system to introduce which is good.”

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