Bengal paves way for viable rooftop solar energy with net metering

To make solar energy viable for households in Bengal, WBERC has relaxed rooftop solar regulations by allowing net metering starting from capacity of 1 KW against 5 KW capacity criteria required earlier and that too for restricted categories of consumers, an official said.

Earlier no individual or housing complexes except co- operatives, were permitted the benefit of net metering a key driver for rooftop solar adoption. Without net metering rooftop solar projects are not very economically feasible, the official said.

According to earlier regulations, only institutions, commercial, industrial and cooperative housings were allowed net metering benefit but that was from 5KW onwards.

The West Bengal Electricity Regulatory Commission (WBERC) in its recent amendments to the Cogeneration and Electricity Generation from Renewable Sources Regulations 2013 had allowed net metering from 1 KW but had restricted it to 5 KW, a top official told PTI.

The new amendment mandates “gross metering” facilities for solar system installation capacities above 5 KW.

The commercial benefit for a consumer is far less in case of gross-metering compared to net-metering thus making adoption less commercially attractive. A simple implication is, now a small installation up to 5 KW gets a boost but it deprives larger installations between 5 KW and 10 KW.

“To boost renewable energy use, we have allowed net- metering of solar power installation from 1 KW to 5 KW. Now there is no restriction and anyone can install rooftop solar.

Earlier regulations did not allow net metering for common households,” a WBERC official said.

However, a consumer cannot install solar panels more than its own load. That means if a household has an existing electricity load of 2 KW then his installation cannot be higher than 2 KW even if he has space and interest, a WBERC official explained.

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The Union Power ministry in its model regulation had provided gross metering over 10 KW solar installations.

The net metering concept allows to set-off the number of units produced from the total consumption and he pays electricity charges only what he had derived from the grid or distribution company.

The regulation allows set-off of up to 90 per cent of his solar power generation for any month.

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