Many positive features in Tamil Nadu’s new solar policy proposal

M. Ramesh | Updated on: Jan 09, 2022

A complete waiver of electricity tax, banking and wheeling charges, cross-subsidy charges and the opportunity to export power from a rooftop solar plant without an upper limit are among the key features of a draft solar policy put out by the renewable energy development agency of Tamil Nadu.

If the draft becomes official policy, there is a high likelihood of the State drawing solar investors like a magnet, given that Tamil Nadu is among the sunnier States in the country.

The draft policy note aims for an installed capacity of 8,884 MW by 2022; currently, the State has 2,221 MW and energy companies have been awarded another 1,700 MW. The policy has left the tariff that would be paid to the energy companies to be determined by the State’s electricity regulatory commission, but has said that it could either be a fixed (feed-in) tariff or one determined through competitive bidding (capacity auctions.)

The roof’s the limit

For those who wish to set up rooftop solar plants, the policy has some goodies. First, it marks a departure from the current policy of allowing a rooftop plant owner to sell back to the grid only 90 per cent of his consumption. If this proposal becomes policy, there would be no limit. Today, ‘net metering’ facility is allowed only to households, small shops or small industries (or, ‘low tension’ consumers). This meant that if a factory put up a solar plant on its (typically large) rooftop, it would have to consume all the power by itself, and any surplus would go waste. Now, in the new policy, any consumer, regardless of ‘low’ or ‘high’ voltage, could put up rooftop plants and sell surplus power to the state’s electricity distribution licensee — TANGEDCO. The consumer would keep getting credit each month and at the end of the 12-month billing period, would either be paid or allowed to carry the credit onward to the next billing cycle Further, under a new concept of ‘group net metering’, if a consumer exports to the grid more than he imports, he may adjust the surplus against his bill for some other electricity connection of his within the State. This is useful because usually consumers pay more for the electricity they buy, than they get paid for what they sell. Furthermore, rooftop solar plants may be owned collectively by consumers. They will get credit on the basis of their “beneficial ownership” — a provision useful for rooftop plants on apartment buildings.

Published on September 25, 2018
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