New Delhi power regulators invite feedback on net metering proposals

06. December 2013 | Markets & Trends, Investor news, Global PV markets | By:  Ian Clover

The Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) will soon introduce the city's first net metering scheme, and has called on stakeholders for suggestions and feedback.

Delhi, India.

Delhi's abundant rooftops are prime spaces for PV installations, especially if a sound net metering policy can be finalized.

In response to recent net metering guidelines put forward by India’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, Delhi’s DERC has invited feedback and suggestions from stakeholders and consumers on the proposal to introduce such a scheme.

DERC has calculated that the Indian city has in excess of 700 square kilometers of viable rooftop space that could be used to install solar panels, and has asked senior officials and residential users for their suggestions about how best to promote and implement a net metering scheme.

The introduction of a net metering system was announced in August, but DERC has so far been unable to settle upon the final terms and conditions, other than to state that the new solar policy will be a production-based subsidy on units of energy saved by using solar power.

The commission wants to finalize how much self-generation solar power will be retained by the customer, how much will be fed into the grid, and how much the grid will draw. "Net metering will help in keeping account of the power produced from the solar panels," a DERC official told the Times of India. "We are waiting for consumer feedback on the proposal before we proceed to fix up solar power tariffs."

Having been entangled in red tape for years, introducing a net metering policy in Delhi is now DERC’s number one priority, with the commission chairman P D Sudhakar stating: "If somebody wants to generate solar power for their own purposes, they may do so and, if they produce more, they can then have an arrangement with their power supplier to send the excess power to the distribution grid. The consumer can simultaneously draw  solar power from this grid."

Draft proposals draw criticism
DERC’s net metering draft proposals drew a mixed response from local renewable energy analysts, with the impending introduction praised but apparent limitations set to be imposed on consumers attracting confusion and criticism.

"DERC’s draft policy says that the capacity to be allowed for each distribution transformer shall not exceed 15% of the capacity of that transformer," said Greenpeace India renewable energy analyst, Manish Ram. "I am not sure why there is such a limit. If people have rooftop space they must be allowed to install bigger capacity solar generation facilities."

Lacking a concrete solar policy, Delhi citizens may be unaware of – or unable to find information pertaining to – any future net metering regulations, warns Ram. Despite a draft solar policy existing, which upholds a production-based subsidy and entitles residential solar installers to a 20% subsidy on solar panels from the ministry, nothing has yet been set into law.

On a national scale, the much-trumpeted National Solar Mission (NSM) has finally started to have an impact on India's solar industry, with previous confusion giving way to optimism and confidence in what the policy can bring to the country's renewable energy landscape.

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