Net metering is a critical dimension on the early and effective implementation of which depends the success of the grid-connected solar rooftop programme. SERCs of 19 States/UTs have notified regulations for net metering/feed-in-tariff mechanism, namely, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Haryana, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand and West Bengal, Andaman & Nicobar, Chandigarh, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Daman & Diu, Lakshadweep, Pondicherry, Goa, UP, Rajasthan and Odisha. However, its implementation has so far been tardy which is impeding project development and deployment. The following issues require urgent attention and action on the part of the discoms to expedite installations:
1. Applications – Simplification of process with time-lines for inviting, processing and time-bound approval of applications, and registration of applicants
2. Metering - Bidirectional net meters capable of recording both export and import of electricity should be procured in bulk, tested and provided by the discoms with cost to be borne by consumers, if necessary; alternatively, clear specifications need to be provided by the discoms, with list of approved suppliers alongwith price, in case they are to be procured by the consumers; to be followed by time-bound approval of installation and connectivity
3. Distribution Transformers - The installation is required to be connected to a distribution transformer of the discom; limits are to be prescribed by the discom for the capacity of the installations to be connected as per the rated capacity of the concerned distribution transformer; the discoms should publicise a list of distribution transformers alongwith permissible capacity of installations that can be connected to each transformer
4. Standards - The discoms need to ensure that relevant CEA Regulations and Standards on Inter-connectivity and Safety are followed and should provide time-bound clearance
5. Billing and Accounting – Necessary procedures and mechanisms with associated software need to be put in place by each discom for billing and accounting of electricity (consumed/exported/imported/surplus carry forward) of the consumers having rooftop installations set up under different implementation modes
Discoms should create dedicated Cells within their set-up to provide single-point facility to installers and consumers relating to all aspects of implementation of net metering in their respective service areas. Training of discom officials could also be organized on technical and accounting aspects. Consumer awareness about solar rooftop, in general, and net metering, in particular, is another area that can be looked at.