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Business

November 14, 2017

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Net Metering Regulations 2015: Amendments proposed to fast-track electricity sharing

Net Metering Regulations 2015: Amendments proposed to fast-track electricity sharing

Karachi: Energy ministry that was created after renaming the power ministry sought some changes in the existing net metering regulations to empower consumers in sharing electricity, officials said on Monday.

“We have gone through the existing procedure and process for net metering as stated in the regulations and its practical implementation at the consumers level,” an official of energy ministry (power division) said. 

“Power division observed that there are certain impediments in efficient commissioning of distributed generation (net metering) facilities starting from installation till issuance of generation licence by the regulator,” the official added, requesting anonymity.

The officials said the proposed amendments are to promote installation of distributed generation systems on net metering in the country.

National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) approved net metering regulations 2015 to allow consumers having surplus power from their solar panels or wind systems to sell electricity to distribution companies.

The power division has formulated guidelines to improve the role of Alternative Energy Development Board (AEDB) and distribution companies (Discos) in processing of distributed generation applications.

“While the objective is consumer facilitation, focus with reference to safety of the system and distribution grid under Nepra’s distribution code and AEDB’s quality standards will duly and adequately be addressed and ensured,” the official said.

The power division proposed exemption for the applicants of net-metering connections from the requirement of certificate from a provincial electric inspector. The certification requirement causes delays in application processing and does not assure safety of the system/interconnection.

As per the existing regulations, the term of the agreement to be signed between a Disco and a net-metering consumer for distributed generation is three years. The ministry proposed the regulator to extend the agreement term to seven years.

Since the power tariff may change any time due to uncertainty, the consumers and banks are not taking up net-metering systems as expected despite rich solar resources, benefit of clean energy and subsequent riddance from electricity load shedding. 

The ministry said the tariff once awarded to a distributed generation facility should remain valid for term of the agreement and the generation licence. Ministry of energy also advised Nepra to issue distributed generation licence within 48 hours of the receipt of application with adherence to the safety codes and quality standards.

The ministry further proposed that a dedicated net-metering implementation unit should be established for net metering in every sub-division in each Disco. AEDB should prepare regulations for enlisting vendors/service providers for the net-metering services.

AEDB should approve the regulations and bound the vendors/service providers to submit a bank guarantee of certain amount to safeguard interest of the consumers and Discos.

Pakistan Electric Power Company (Pepco) should prepare and design extensive public information campaign and implement it on its own as well as through Discos. Pepco should also set up a dedicated net-metering implementation unit for monitoring the progress of all Discos, according to the ministry.

Net metering regime was approved to allow customers to get monetary benefits by offsetting at least a part of their power bills by generating renewable electricity.  Under the regime, a meter capable of recording power flows in both directions is to be used.

Such a meter records readings when consumers are drawing power from the utility’s grid, using more energy than they are producing, and also when energy is sent to the grid, using less energy than they are producing. At the month end, the consumer is billed only for the net electricity used.

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