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GERC Directs DISCOMs To Consider APPC Rs 4/kWh For Excess Rooftop Solar Power

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The Gujarat Electricity Regulatory Commission (GERC) has underlined that distribution firms (DISCOMs) acquiring excess energy from rooftop solar installations shall use the state’s average power purchase cost (APPC) of Rs 4/kWh as the cap for the fiscal year 2020-21.

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Kirti Kumar Shah, a rooftop solar system owner, petitioned the Commission to require state DISCOMs to reinstate the APPC pricing provision in the grid-connectivity agreement and recalculate all DISCOM energy bills and provide payments to consumers.

In accordance with GERC Regulations 2016, DISCOMs must acquire surplus electricity from users at the APPC defined by the Commission for the year in which the rooftop solar system is commissioned and for the life of the installation.

According to the petition, the DISCOMs unilaterally changed the APPC provision in order to acquire excess energy from rooftop solar installations. 

Furthermore, before the order was issued, the DISCOMs used a provisional rate different from APPC to acquire surplus electricity and began collecting from rooftop solar owners in 2017.

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Concerning billing difficulties, the petitioner said that bi-directional metre reading and energy billing are confusing. There have been occasions where consumers were not provided proper credit where it was applicable.

The petitioner further said that the Commission earlier issued a notification saying that APPC is applicable for acquiring excess energy from rooftop solar projects that have been operational since January 23, 2020. 

As a result, the Commission should instruct all DISCOMs to regulate surplus electricity from rooftop solar at APPC and pay its rooftop solar owners/consumers, plus appropriate interest.

DISCOMs argued that the Commission has previously addressed the problem of the APPC rate from the fiscal year 2014-15 to 2017-18. For the APPC rate applicable to FY 2019-20, the Commission performed a true-ups exercise for DISCOMs in FY 2018-19, including the power purchase cost, for further consideration in relation to FY 2019-20. Thus, the petition is inadmissible and should be dismissed.

Additionally, the current petition is on behalf of around 13 consumers from various DISCOMs who are experiencing various challenges with rooftop solar projects put up by them under the GERC Regulations, 2016. Further, the petitioner has no agreements with any DISCOMs and is therefore unaffected.

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Therefore, DISCOMs questioned the petition’s nature, claiming that there is no particular provision in the Electricity Act of 2003 that allows an individual to make a petition on behalf of another person or group of individuals.

The Commission computed and established various APPC for the fiscal years 2019-20 and 2020-21 for different licensees, subject to the state’s maximum APPC, after reviewing both parties’ submissions.

The Commission denied the petition for DISCOMs to pay the APPC of their licence area.

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