Hyderabad: Despite India’s pledge to cut down on fossil fuels and generate 100 gigawatt power through renewable energy, Telangana State’s power utility appears to be largely unhappy with people’s adoption of solar power.
According to an official of TS Transco, the state-owned power corporation is losing revenue from domestic and commercial consumers as people install rooftop solar panels for captive usage, which led to lesser consumption of grid power.
The effect of lower consumption on TS Transco would get aggravated due to the slab-based tariff system followed by the power utility in the state as the lower consumption slabs would be charged at lower rates compared to higher usage slabs.
Transco, however, an official said, did not yet calculate the amount of revenue that it is losing through generation of solar power through rooftop solar panels.
Telangana State Transmission Company (TS Transco) charges up to 100 units at the rate of Rs 7.50 per unit, from 101 to 300 units, Rs 8.90 per unit, 301 to 500 Rs 9.40 per unit and above 500 units Rs 10 per unit.
For example, if a commercial establishment consumes 500 units a month, it will be charged at higher rate of Rs 10 per unit — paying Rs 5,000 for power. If the commercial establishment sets up a solar rooftop panel, which could generate 200 units of power, the use of grid power will shrink to 300 units, which will be charged at Rs 8.9. This will reduce power bill to Rs 2,670. If the same 300 units were charged at the highest slab of Rs 10, the commercial establishment would have had to pay Rs 3,000.
Apart from losing the demand in units, state power utility is also losing on slab differential, which could hurt the power utility’s income badly if the trend of shifting towards solar power gathers momentum.
Though the intention of the government to increase the share of solar power in the country is good, energy officials claim that concessions and exemptions extending by the central government are being enjoyed by the rich and business people.
To further buttress their claim, the officials claim that most of the middle class families, who reside in apartments are not able to set up rooftop solar plants due to lack of space in their flats.
A senior officer in the energy department, however, said that some people are approaching the government with a request to allow them to set up solar power unit to a group of apartments.
“Some three or four apartments want to set up a solar unit near by them to utilise the power by all the participating apartments,” he said. The official, however, said that the current law does not allow shared solar power plants and it must be used for the captive use by the owner.
If the law is amended by the central government, the official said it would help apartments to meet a part of its power demand from solar energy.
TS Transco sits on NOC for SCR
Faced with an imminent lose of its biggest consumer South Central Railway, TS Transco appears to be postponing the shift by delaying the issuance of NOC to railways for availing power from another source.
Under the Open Access System, the Union power ministry has allotted 50 MW power from Maharashtra-based Ratnagiri Gas and Power Private Limited. The ministry had already directed the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) to facilitate the implementation of power allocation from April 1, 2017.
The shift, however, would happen only after TS Transco issues a No Objection Certificate (NOC) to SCR, which uses Rs 700 crore power from the power utility.
SCR general manager V.K. Yadav has also written to TS Chief Secretary S.P. Singh requesting him to direct TS Transco to issue NOC at the earliest. “In this effort to reduce the cost of energy, railways have recently operationalised its deemed licensee status. As a part of this, Union power ministry has issued allocation of power of about 50 MW from RGPPL.”
To avail this power in Telangana, he said railway authorities have submitted application and have discussed the matter in a series of meetings at various levels with Transco officials. The No Objection Certificate has, however, still not been issued by Transco”.