The Kanara Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) has said that the Union Ministry of Power should allow net metering for all rooftop solar systems irrespective of their size.
Net metering is a system that gives solar energy owners credits for power that they add to the grid.
In its response to the Draft Electricity (Rights of Consumer) Rules 2020, the chamber said that only if consumers have generated excess solar energy (over and above what they can consume themselves), would the customer then sell it to a power distribution company (DISCOM) at a rate fixed by the regulator. With net metering, there would remain a powerful incentive for today’s consumers to become “prosumers”.
The chamber’s response was to a September 9, 2020 letter from the Ministry to all chambers of commerce seeking their comments on the draft rules.
Responding to it, KCCI president Isaac Vas said in a recent letter to the Ministry that the chamber commended the Ministry for coming up with the rules as such electricity (rights of consumer) rules were non-existing to protect the rights of consumers and “prosumers”.
“However, on reading certain draft rules, it appears that the existing rights of consumers are curtailed by the very rules that are made to protect them. It is prayed that the rights of the consumers should be favourable to the consumers instead of curtailing them,” he said.
Mr. Vas said that it is a well-known fact that small businesses and MSMEs are the largest consumers of power and the largest provider of employment. However, nowhere in the rules has any mention been made that the volume of minimum power load these consumers should be eligible to draw under LT connections.
“We request that consumers should be able to draw 150 KW as LT connection across all DISCOMs and States and in case of mixed load installation, (which means if the building has residential and commercial area), the limit there should be increased to 250 KW, so that, small complexes can have individual power meters. This right to have minimum eligible load for a consumer may be added in the rules,” he said.
Relating to metering, the rules should specify whether it should be smart pre-payment meter or prepayment meter. There should be wide consultation with all stakeholders before implementation on mandatory prepayment meter. The State Commission should have power to specify for which class of consumers the prepayment meter should be made mandatory, the letter said.
Referring to online payment, the rules state that bill amount for more than ₹ 1,000 or amount specified by the Commission shall be mandatorily be paid online. This restricts the rights of the consumers in making different modes of payments, including by cheque/demand draft. Various consumers such as non-profit entity, associations, residential associations, trust, senior citizen may not use the online payment facility. Further, a limit of ₹ 1,000 is very small. Many people in rural area may not access to the online payment system. Hence, the limit should be raised to ₹ 10,000 for payment mode other than cash, the chamber said.
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