Bescom’s net-metering programme: Utility allows generation of solar power; glitches mar year-old project

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BENGALURU: Bescom’s net-metering programme, which allows people to generate solar energy on their rooftops and export the surplus to the electricity grid, took off with great pomp last October. One year later, the city power utility’s ambitious scheme is facing serious teething troubles.

Of the 900 applications Bescom received for the scheme, only 122 bidirec tional meters have been installed.About 300 applications are still in process and the rest are unattended.This, while Bescom’s target for rooftop generation this year is 1 MW.

Begur Road resident Nilesh Mukherjee, who has installed a 1 KW solar panel on his rooftop, has been waiting the past six months for Bescom to fit a meter that can record electricity consumed from the grid and the solar power fed into it.”(Bescom) is extremely slow. I do not see much hope for this now,” he said. The incentive for participants is that they are promised a high return on the net excess electricity they feed into the grid. So if a resident consumes 5 kW from the grid, and exports 10 kW to it, Bescom will pay him Rs 9.56 a unit only on the excess 5 kW fed into the grid.

Authorities said the delays are a result of the extensive due diligence required which takes one-two months depending on the status of the panel installation and other prerequisites.The process is supposed to take a week but consumers complain that it some times stretches up to three-six months. “The application process usually takes time because the technical requirements need to be met at the consumers’ end first,” said Satish Kumar, general manager (meters and commercial), Bescom. Consumers said that even after panel installations, the regulatory procedure takes at least three months to complete.

S Krishnakumar, a resident of RMV 2nd Stage who received his connection in June after many hiccups, said the delays were because of a lack of coordination between the territorial division that inspects the solar panels and the meter-testing division that monitors the netmetering system.

To tackle this problem, the utility re cently amended its guidelines so only panels above 5 kW need to be inspected by the meter-testing division, said Besom’s Kumar. Another problem is of incorrect meter readings, with some consumers saying they don’t receive payment from Bescom as promised under the scheme. “The consumer is being charged the prevailing tariff (maximum Rs 5.50 per unit) for his consumption and the buying rate is Rs 9.56. However, Bescom buys only if you are a net exporter, that is only after the home needs are met,” Kumar said.

Source: Economic Times