MSEDCL proposes astronomical GSC for solar rooftop

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Nagpur: Even as solar rooftop consumers were celebrating the relief given to them by Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC), MSEDCL has dropped a bombshell. It has proposed astronomical grid support charges, which will make solar power costlier than its own power.

The discom, it seems, is hell bent on scuttling the nascent solar sector in the state. MERC will have to once again reject its petition to save solar consumers.

MERC had recently dismissed the discom’s petition to make net billing compulsory instead of net metering. It had, however, allowed MSEDCL to levy grid support charge (GSC) for consumers having load more than 10 KW.

The discom has proposed GSC ranging from Rs 4.46 per unit to Rs 8.66 per unit for domestic consumers, between Rs 5.06 and Rs 8.76 per unit for commercial consumers and between Rs 3.60 per unit and Rs 4.08 per unit for industrial consumers.

A senior MSEDCL official admitted that if these charges were allowed by MERC, it would make solar rooftop power costlier than the discom tariff.

MSEDCL, in its petition submitted to MERC for making net billing compulsory, had stated that it has incurred a loss of Rs 224 crore so far. Moreover, solar rooftop load had increased from 20.44 MW in 2016-17 to 288.80 MW in 2018-19. The company feels that if paying consumers go out of its net, it will have to increase the tariff for remaining consumers.

The discom conveniently forgets that solar rooftop power is only 0.3 percent of its total power purchase. In 2018-19, solar rooftop consumers generated 330 million units (MU) against 1.2 lakh MU purchased by it.

More importantly, MSEDCL is unable to meet its solar renewable purchase obligation (RPO) target. It was able to meet only 40 per cent of its RPO solar target in 2017-18.

MSEDCL itself is not getting any response to its bids to buy solar power. It had recently floated a tender for buying 1,350 MW but only one generator supplied a bid for 5 MW.

On the other hand, MERC has increased MSEDCL’s solar target from 2.5 per cent in 2019-20 to 13.5 per cent in 2024-25. MSEDCL has protested this increase and told MERC that it is unachievable.

Commenting on the GSC, solar expert Ajit Ganguly said, “MERC had allowed MSEDCL to levy GSC so that it does not incur any losses. However, the proposed charges are so high that solar power will cost between Rs 14 and Rs 15 per unit. This is ridiculous. No other state in the country has done this.”

An industrialist said on the condition of anonymity, “MSEDCL wants to land the new government in trouble. Industries are finding it difficult to survive in the state due to high power tariff. Solar was the only option but MSEDCL wants to make it unviable.”

Source: Economic Times

Categories: Solar