Kerala Kaumudi Online
Monday, 04 March 2024 7.27 PM IST

Don't go back on promises


Although KSEB initially had made many enticing promises to those installing solar panels on rooftops, it has been going back on promises over time. The condition is that the consumer has to pay for the electricity consumed from KSEB in addition to the electricity consumed from solar. However, the money for electricity received by KSEB from solar panels will be given back to consumers only after a year. This is not what was said at first. Huge reduction in bills, good price for additional electricity generated...many people invested lakhs and installed rooftop solar panels by believing these promises of the KSEB. Later, the consumers themselves had to approach the Regulatory Commission many times to get the promises fulfilled.

The current practice is to measure household electricity using a net meter, which is a bidirectional meter. KSEB had demanded this should be changed as it was causing losses. It also demanded that a gross metering system with separate meters should be introduced for measuring electricity from KSEB and electricity from solar panels. However, the Regulatory Commission did not allow this. Kerala Kaumudi had pointed out through several reports the backbone of the rooftop solar project will be broken if this is allowed. According to the order of the Regulatory Commission, those setting up solar plants with an installed capacity of more than one megawatt will have the freedom to choose between gross meter or net meter. Subsequently, the board withdrew from the demand of two meters for the time being. This was a great relief to the consumers. However, we had recently published a report stating that consumers who installed rooftop solar panels are in distress following KSEB's action of not providing three-phase net meters for the past three months citing the increase in the number of applicants. KSEB has directed the consumers either to buy the meter from the market or wait until KSEB gets the stock. Electricity cannot be supplied to the grid if the meter is not installed. If that is the case, the electricity produced through solar will be wasted and the consumer will not receive the money for the electricity, the report pointed out. This had an immediate effect. It is very welcome that the board has announced that the shortage of three-phase net meters will be resolved soon following the interventions at the highest levels. The shortage of meters was due to technical errors in tendering. The announcement of the board is that the meters will be made available within two weeks after the completion of the tender. The rooftop solar project is a project that fetches a 40 percent subsidy from the central government.

Despite all these issues and obstacles, Kerala is the state that implements the project in the best way after Gujarat. In Kerala, 133 MW is generated through the rooftop solar project. The target is to generate 200 MW. The state would have been able to achieve this goal if it had properly kept the promises it made in the beginning. KSEB should initiate an intensive program for that. Solar energy is the simplest solution for energy shortage. We cannot stay away from it. We can only achieve this if we continue to keep up the promises by not backing down.

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