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The trend of powering one’s home at a low cost, by using solar energy, is yet to catch up in the city. However, authorities of the Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (MSEDCL) are hopeful that the net metering arrangement will attract more consumers.
Under the net metering arrangement, one can apply online for the installation of a Solar Rooftop PhotoVoltaic (PV) system, said Ramrao Munde, chief engineer, Pune zone.
MSEDCL officials admitted that few consumers had expressed an interest in the net metering system and more consumers ought to avail the facility. So far, only 99 residential, industrial and commercial consumers, with a total capacity of 1629 KW of solar power, have availed the net metering arrangement.
Key components of the rooftop solar PV system include solar panels that convert sun rays into electricity and an inverter that aggregates power generation from each panel, and then connects and converts it to grid electricity (AC – grid voltage).
Experts at the city-based Prayas Energy Group explained that consumers can install solar PV systems and generate electricity. The electricity generated is fed back to the MSEDCL grid. The consumer continues to use electricity as usual and at the end of the month, MSEDCL bills the consumer only for the net electricity drawn. For instance, if the total electricity consumption of a household using solar energy is 300 units, and the solar electricity generated/sent to the grid is 200 units, MSEDCL will charge the consumer for only (300-200) 100 units.
“There is a strong need to hold a widespread awareness campaign on the financial benefits of rooftop solar PV systems, especially for residential consumers. A more proactive and responsive power utility, with regard to processing net-metering applications and changing meters in time, would assist potential solar consumers,” said Ashwin Gambhir, a senior research associate with the Prayas Energy Group.
Meanwhile, according to officials at the Maharashtra Energy Development Agency, online applications have been invited for those wishing to seek a central subsidy, for installing solar roof top systems, since February this year. H M Kulkarni, general manager (rural), Maharashtra Energy Development Agency, said there are 17 to 18 such projects in the state.