MERC (Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission) through an order on 6thMay 2014, has allowed Open Access for the Solar Power in Maharashtra. However the Commission has directed MSEDCL to allow the Open Access through solar generator as single source only, as distributed open access through multiple sources is in the process of amendment.
The order has come in response of a petition filed by GEA (Green Energy Association). GEA had requested MERC to direct MSEDCL to issue the Open Access permissions to the solar power generators (in Maharashtra) and also to issue credit notes for the energy injected by the solar generators into the system till date.
MSEDCL had earlier replied that in absence of any guidelines regarding Open Access through solar generators, it was not clear whether benefits such as Energy Banking, Non reduction of Contract demand and Concessional cross subsidy surcharge were to be passed on to solar projects (as was already being done with other Renewable Energy Projects).
To add an interesting twist, MSEDCL added that solar power is generated during off peak hours while the credit has to be given during the peak time consumption! This meant that solar power would be utilized during day time and MSEDCL (grid) power will be utilized during night hours, at a time when the power is available at cheapest rate (due to TOD night rebate). Thus a very high rebate given to such consumers in the night Tariff would considerably increase the energy charge during the other times of the day and adversely affect other categories of consumers who are not eligible for TOD Tariff.
For its judgement the commission drew from The Electricity Act, 2003 which has defined the Open Access as non discriminatory provisions for use of transmission lines or distribution system by person engaged in generation. MERC also disagreed with MSEDCL that it had delayed the Open Access permission on absence of guidelines/policy for Open Access through solar generator. It was clearly noted that MSEDCL had allowed Open Access for solar power in case of Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) for certain period.
Regarding “Open Access through more than one source” MSEDCL stated that it was facing difficulties on the operational and billing front. On this, MERC has agreed for now saying that under present circumstances it is not appropriate to allow Open Access permission through more than one source without considering all relevant factors including operational and billing difficulties involved in it and framing it into proper Regulatory mechanism.
The MERC order on Open Access for Solar Power can be accessed here.