Pakistani regulator clarifies net metering proposal


The National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) has been forced to calm fears that its plans to amend Pakistan‘s electricity net metering rules might hit solar system owners and the nation's clean energy ambitions.

The government body last week said the possible change to net metering – which permits solar households to sell excess electricity to the grid, thereby reducing their net energy bills – concerned solely a proposal to raise the payments made for solar electricity injected into the grid.

A statement issued by Nepra said: “It is clarified that [the] proposed amendment would not have any impact on self-consumption [of solar electricity], as well as netting off of the units.”

Netting off refers to the fact credit awarded for excess solar power injected to the grid comes off household electricity bills.

Only net metering

The statement continued: “The units would be netted off as per the already approved mechanism. The amendment in the regulations only applies to the excess units sold by net metering consumers.”

Referring to “misreporting” in “the media” and on social media, the regulator added that any rise in payments would apply only to excess electricity generated under the net metering program and would not endanger national solar ambitions. That clarification suggests there had been speculation any rise in payments would apply to the cost of all solar electricity, including that generated at utility scale projects.

Nepra said the proposed rise in net metered electricity payments is only out for public consultation at present, with no decision having been reached.

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The regulator confirmed any rise in the cost of applying net metering would be borne by all grid electricity users.

The most recent consultation exercise announced on the Nepra website in relation to the net metering regime opened on August 24, 2022, and is due to close this week. That proposal simply concerned changing the wording of a phrase used in the rules from “national average power purchase price” to “national average energy purchase price.”

An article last week in The News International newspaper, published a day before the Nepra clarification, called for wider access to finance to enable wider adoption of home solar and storage and criticized sluggish take-up of the policy to date.

Slow take-up

Nepra itself confirmed only 20,700 households benefited from net metering at the time of its statement.

Application of the program is also hampered by slow roll-out of appropriate electricity meters by utilities, The News International report stated, referring to a webinar on the topic held last week.

At the same event, a utility spokesperson pointed to a lack of training, aging power infrastructure, power company financial woes, and a lack of net metering equipment standards as reasons for the difficulty in installing meters.

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