Maharashtra needs clear policy on grid connectivity to solar power

Nagpur: Maharashtra needs a clear policy on allowing grid connectivity to roof top solar power generators in homes even as the Centre is taking steps to promote and popularise solar power across the country, according to clean energy activists here.

Activists of city-based Vidarbha Industries Association (VIA) say that using electricity generated from roof top generators at homes and offices could attract penal action as there is no clear policy on grid connectivity to such sets.

The Central government has been striving since five years to give a big push to solar power. The Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM) was established for this purpose and a target of generating 20,000 MW of solar power by year 2022 has been envisaged.

But the state government is not keen and has failed to issue a clear guideline or notification to allow setting up of roof top solar generators that are available and affordable to a vast chunk of urban consumers, said Sudhir Budhay, an energy activist.

In line with JNNSM, the Central Electricity Authority on September 30, 2013, came out with strict guidelines and has directed all states to provide legal support for allowing roof top solar power generators. At least 13 states comprising Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Punjab, Delhi, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Goa and Orissa, and all Union territories, have laid down norms to provide grid connectivity to roof top sets that are being accepted as a non-conventional energy source.

But Maharashtra has failed to toe the line, sources said. Also, Budhay said he has been fighting for this policy in the state but is facing stiff resistance from the state power distribution company which seems to harbour fears of heavy losses if its consumers shift to solar power.

While there is policy for solar power connectivity for units generating 1MW or more, there is no such clarity for smaller sets with less that 1MW or less than 33KV voltage level, he rued. Budhay's long-pending PIL was given a final hearing last year by the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) and an order was passed on November 25, 2013, forming a committee to give technical guidelines for the notification on smaller solar sets.

The committee submitted its recommendations and final report on July 23 early this year but, apparently, it is gathering dust in the Mantralaya for last four months as the state power distributor is taking no action to implement the report. This lack of action is defeating the very purpose for which JNNSM was formed, said Budhay.

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