A power trip for rooftop solar, home EV charging

 The amendments come close on the heels of government launching the PM Surya Ghar Scheme to help 10 million households install rooftop projects with incentives.
The amendments come close on the heels of government launching the PM Surya Ghar Scheme to help 10 million households install rooftop projects with incentives.

Summary

  • Amendments to electricity rules aim to accelerate rooftop solar projects, streamline EV charging connections, and expedite new electricity connections. Changes include waiving feasibility study for rooftop solar up to 10 KW and faster approval process.

New Delhi: Quicker installation of rooftop solar projects, dedicated power connections to charge electric vehicles at home, and speedier grant of electric connections to households may be a reality soon, with the government tweaking key rules in this respect.

Rooftop solar installations with a capacity of up to 10 KW will not need a technical feasibility study anymore after the government amended the Electricity (Rights of Consumers) Rules, 2020 on Friday. Mint was the first to report on 8 January about this planned waiver.

For systems above 10 KW, the timeline to complete the feasibility study is cut from 20 days to 15. In case the study is not completed by then, the approval will be deemed to have been given. Also, for rooftop solar PV systems up to 5 KW capacity, the distribution company will have to strengthen the distribution system at its own cost. The timeline for the distribution licensee to commission rooftop systems stands reduced from 30 days to 15.

Union power minister R.K. Singh said the amendments also reduce the timeline for getting new electricity connections and that they simplify the process of setting up rooftop solar installations. “Amendments have been made in the rules, to facilitate faster installation and enhance the ease of setting up rooftop solar PV systems at the premises of prosumers," a ministry statement said.

The amendments come close on the heels of government launching the PM Surya Ghar Scheme to help 10 million households install rooftop projects with incentives.

“With this welcome change, residential rooftop installation will become easier faster and hassle-free. Since the time-frame for system feasibility is also fixed, net metering approval will be easier and faster and consumer will start getting benefit of prosumer very fast," said Shriprakash Rai, chief revenue officer (CRO), commercial and industrial business, AmpIn Energy Transition.

The amended rules also provide for separate electric connections for EV charging. “Consumers can now obtain separate electricity connections for charging their electric vehicles (EVs)," the statement said.

The amendment has also reduced the time period for obtaining a new electricity connection from seven days to three days in metropolitan areas, 15 to 7 in other municipal areas, and 30 to 15 in rural areas. However, in rural areas with hilly terrain, it will remain at 30 days.

“The relaxations are expected to support the adoption of rooftop solar projects and promote electric vehicles in the country. With these amendments, consumers having relatively low contracted capacity under their existing connection may opt for a new connection to meet the EV charging requirement. Also, it may aid the households in continuing their existing household consumption in the lower tariff slabs." said Vikram V., vice-president & co-group head, corporate ratings at Icra Ltd.

Further, in bid to provide more choices to the consumers, the home-owners in multi-storied buildings and residential colonies will now have the option to choose their connection type—either individual connections for everyone or a single-point connection for the whole premise. It would also ensure separate billing for common areas and back-up generators in residential societies, the government said.

The amendments empower consumers living in multi-storeyed flats to choose their connection type and ensure separate billing for common areas and back-up generators in residential societies, the statement said.

The exercise of the choosing an option will be based on a ballot process to be conducted by the discom. The amendments also provide for check meters to be installed by distribution company in case of consumer complaints, to verify electricity consumption.

In cases of consumers raising complaints about meter reading not aligning with their actual electricity consumption, the distribution licensee has to install an additional meter within 5 days from the date of receipt of the complaint, which would then be used to verify the consumption for a minimum period of three months. This, the ministry said, would help bring accuracy in the billing process.

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