Gujarat Exempts Rooftop Solar Systems Below 10 kW from Technical Feasibility

Gujarat Electricity Regulatory Commission (GERC) has issued its Draft Gujarat Electricity Regulatory Commission (Net Metering Rooftop Solar PV Grid Interactive Systems) (Fourth Amendment) Regulations, 2024.

This draft introduces specific provisions for low- and high-tension consumers installing rooftop solar systems, aiming to enhance the integration of larger solar capacities into the grid while ensuring equitable cost distribution.

The regulator has exempted rooftop systems with a capacity of up to 10kW from getting a technical feasibility study done. Any increase in the consumer’s sanctioned load will be handled by the distribution company (DISCOM).

Key Provisions and Updates

Under the new amendment, distribution licensees must update their transformers’ capacity for connecting rooftop solar systems annually. This information must be provided to the Commission to ensure transparency and efficient management of grid capacity.

One of the notable changes in the amendment pertains to the costs associated with strengthening the distribution infrastructure to support rooftop solar installations:

1.Rooftop solar systems up to 6 kW

The cost of infrastructure strengthening, including the distribution transformer, for facilitating installations up to 6 kW will be incorporated into the Annual Revenue Requirement (ARR) of the DISCOM.

2.Low-tension (LT) consumers installing rooftop solar systems above 6 kW up to 100 kW in aggregate

For installations exceeding 6 kW, system strengthening charges will be applied differently based on the DISCOM category:

State-owned DISCOMs and Torrent Power

Consumers installing rooftop solar systems between 6 kW and 100 kW will incur system strengthening charges based on per kW rates for new or additional loads at low tension. These rates are determined by the Commission periodically. If adding new rooftop solar capacity pushes the total capacity above 6 kW, the strengthening charges will only apply to the incremental capacity beyond 6 kW.

Other DISCOMs

If infrastructure upgrades, such as the augmentation of service lines or distribution transformer capacity, are required, the consumer will bear the cost. However, once the Commission approves a per kW recovery charge for new connections or additional load, this rate will also apply to rooftop solar installations.

3.High-tension (HT) consumers installing rooftop solar systems above 6 kW up to 1000 kW in aggregate

State-owned DISCOMs:

HT consumers installing rooftop solar systems with capacities above 6 kW up to 1000 kW will be subject to system strengthening charges. These charges are calculated per KVA and aligned with the rates applicable for releasing new or additional high-tension loads.

If adding new rooftop solar capacity results in the total capacity exceeding 6 kW, the strengthening charges will only apply to the additional capacity beyond 6 kW.

Other DISCOMs

For HT consumers served by other DISCOMs, any required upgrades to the distribution infrastructure will be carried out by the DISCOM at the consumer’s cost.

Once the Commission approves recovery charges per kW or KVA for new connections or additional load, these system strengthening charges will also apply to rooftop solar installations.

The amendment specifies that the minimum capacity for any rooftop solar system installed at a consumer’s premises must be at least 1 kW.

Process timeline

Initially, the Gujarat Energy Development Agency (GEDA), or an agency designated by the government, will issue a registration certificate within five days of the application. The Chief Electrical Inspector (CEI) will approve the single line diagram, earthing diagram, and wiring diagram within ten days of receiving the completed application.

Applicants must submit their application to the DISCOM along with the required documents, including details on the capacity of the Solar Rooftop to be installed. Upon registration with the DISCOM, a Technical Feasibility Report (TFR) will be prepared within three days. This report will include detailed information about the consumer, load details, transformer capacity, and any necessary estimates for system strengthening.

Once the TFR is received from the field, the head office will issue a letter to the applicant regarding ‘In Principle’ consent for connectivity, payment of connectivity charges, and the execution of the connectivity agreement within two days.

Depending on whether system strengthening is required, the applicant will have different timelines for completing the project work. If no system strengthening is needed, the connectivity charges and agreement must be finalized within 15 days, with the project work to be completed within six months. If system strengthening is required, this timeline extends to 30 days for the agreement and payment, still allowing six months for project completion.

The DISCOM must complete system strengthening within 15 days of payment and agreement execution. Upon completion of the project work, a two-month notice will be issued to the applicant for commissioning the project. If the applicant does not complete the work within this notice period, the application will be canceled within five days, forfeiting all charges paid.

Applicants who complete their work must submit documents of ownership, installation approval, and equipment compliance certificates within three days. The DISCOM will inform the field office to install the meters within two days. The Field Office will install the meters and report to the head office within five days.

Finally, the DISCOM will notify GEDA or the designated agency to issue the commissioning certificate within two days. GEDA or the designated agency will visit the site and issue the commissioning certificate within three days of the applicant’s intimation.

In an earlier amendment, GERC allowed net metering for rooftop solar systems with a capacity of 1 kW and up to 1 MW. Gross metering was permitted for rooftop solar systems with 10 kW and up to 1 MW capacity.

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