Maharashtra: Consumers, solar power manufacturers term grid support charges unjust & regressive

Consumers and industry representatives on Thursday vehemently opposed the MSEDCL’s proposal to levy Rs 4-8 in grid support charges on power generated from rooftop solar plants.

They termed the proposed charges as “unjust” and “regressive” during a public hearing organised by the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC). The hearing was held on the multi-year electricity tariff proposal of the Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited, through which it aims to mop up Rs 60,313 crore between 2020 and 2025.

MSEDCL, in its petition submitted to MERC, had stated that solar rooftop load had increased from 20.44 MW in 2016-17 to 288.80 MW in 2018-19. The company said if paying consumers go out of its net, it would have to increase the tariff for remaining consumers.

The representatives of the solar power manufacturers’ association said the levy would adversely impact the Union government’s National Solar Mission as nobody would come forward to opt for the green energy option. There are 42 lakh agricultural pumps in Maharashtra that are powered by solar energy and even they will be hit by the levy, the association representatives said.

A representative of the Vasantdada Sugar Institute said they stopped the work for installing a 600 kilowatt-hour (Kwh) rooftop solar power plant because of the MSEDCL’s grid support charge proposal.

Consumers also came down heavily on the tariff revision proposal and termed it exorbitant. ND Patil of the Peasants and Workers Party alleged that the tariff was being increased to hide the inefficiencies of the power distribution company and its failure to check power thefts and transmission losses.

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