NEW DELHI: Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission will finally notify regulations for net metering and the city's first solar tariff this month. It means that private players and individuals can set up rooftop solar systems and supply energy generated to the grid.
All transactions to and fro from the grid will be metered. The policy gives individuals the freedom to tap as much solar power as they require. Experts, however, say the solar tariff needs to provide more financial incentives if it is to become successful.
"The net metering proposal is at an advanced stage. It's likely to be released this month. It's meant for anyone who plans to supply renewable energy to the grid. For large private players, the tariff will be decided on a case-by-case basis depending on capital cost and the solar regulations we have. For individuals, the energy they produce can offset their electricity bills," said DERC chairperson P D Sudhakar.
The timing of the solar policy announcement will coincide with the net metering, and will explore the option of incentives. "We are looking at various options specific to the type of consumer. We may offer subsidies in lower slabs for initial capital expenditure and more incentives to large customers like DMRC or malls. The policy is still being finalized and is new for us, too," said a senior official.
Another proposal to subsidize solar rooftop projects is by way of the ministry of new and renewable energy waiving loan interest rates. "For instance, if the individual takes a loan of 80% of the cost at 12% interest, 9% interest will be paid by MNRE. The individual will still have to pay a 3% interest. This reduces the cost upfront but the individual may still have to pay a substantial amount in instalments," said a source.
Experts said that financial incentives are critical to make solar power generation a success story in Delhi. "Why should people install solar PV systems if there is no financial incentive for them? They will build an extra floor instead. Only 30% subsidy from the ministry is not attractive. DERC has the opportunity to set an example for state governments by providing preferential tariff to individuals," Abhishek Pratap, senior campaigner for renewable energy at Greenpeace India, said. Pratap added the tariff in Gujarat is favourable for rooftop solar power generation which has picked up in that state.
Discoms, meanwhile, seem optimistic. Sources at Tata Power Delhi are looking forward to the net metering notification and a tariff-based incentive for solar PVs. "We have already commissioned a study funded by United States Trade and Development Agency to assess what could be the feed in tariff for rooftop solar. As of now there is no tariff for solar rooftop only for solar. We are hoping that the economics of this is finalized," said a senior official. They will start procuring net meters once the notification is made.
As of now, Delhi government is focusing on government buildings. It has already commissioned 10KW projects in government schools and hospitals. "PWD will take up many government building projects. We are only going to facilitate the process," an official from the environment department said.