The Kerala State Electricity Regulatory Commission (KSERC), in a recent ruling, has ruled that distribution licensees should allow group housing societies to avail supply at low tension (LT) voltage levels to meet the power requirements of their common services and install solar PV systems under net metering as prosumers, up to a maximum capacity of 100 kW.

It has made it clear that all ‘prosumers,’ irrespective of their tariff category, are allowed to install solar systems under net metering up to the sanctioned connected load or contract demand as applicable.

The Commission said that residential consumers with connected loads up to 20 kW are permitted to install solar systems of capacity up to 20 kW under net metering, irrespective of their connected load.

The Indian Oil Officers Cooperative Housing Society had filed a petition with the Commission to clarify that connected load was not a limitation for connecting solar projects for group housing societies and residential flats.

The Indian Oil Officers Cooperative Housing Society in Ernakulam wanted to install a 100 kW solar system. The power from the system was to supply power to the apartment complex’s common area.

The connected load of the common facility meter was 55.4 kW, which was to be increased by 17 kW after constructing the second tower, which is expected to be completed in March 2021.

The housing society approached the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) for issuing a feasibility report for installing a 100 kW solar system to supply power to common facilities. However, the Assistant Executive Engineer (AEE) or the Palarivattom region refused to provide the report.

The housing society said that due to KSEB’s non-cooperative attitude, the residents would not be able to benefit from the solar system they had installed using their funds.

The petitioner also submitted that the distribution transformer installed would be sufficient to allow 100 kW solar power feed and thus be able to cater to over 100 families expected to reside in this housing complex. Hence, there was no technical reason for KSEB’s refusal.

KSEB, in its reply, said that as per the regulations, consumers with connected load up to 20 kW were permitted to install ‘Renewable Energy System’ of capacity up to 20 kW, irrespective of their connected load. The limit of 20 kW connected load would not apply to group housing societies and residential flats for common services such as lifts, common lighting, clubhouse, car parking, and common areas.

KSEB asked the petitioner to limit the solar project’s capacity to the building’s connected load to benefit from net metering.

The state DISCOM said that relaxation was not available to group housing societies and residential flats for installing solar systems for common services, over their contract demand or connected load. Such consumers have to limit the solar installation to the connected load for availing of the net metering facility.

Commission’s Analysis

After going through the provisions of renewable energy regulations 2020, the Commission observed that for all prosumers irrespective of tariff capacity, relaxation was not available to the group housing societies and residential flats for installing solar PV systems for common services, exceeding either their contract demand or connected load as applicable.

However, as part of promoting rooftop solar installations by residential consumers, the Commission permitted installing renewable energy systems of capacity up to 20 kW irrespective of the connected load.

If the prosumer desires to install the renewable energy system above the connected load or contract demand, the augmentation of the distribution system required for connectivity must be borne by the prosumer.

“The common services in ‘residential flats’ exclusively used for domestic purposes are billed under domestic tariff. Accordingly, the connection for common service in residential flats is to be treated as a prosumer for domestic use,” the Commission noted.

The Commission noted that if the consumer’s connected load exceeded 100 kW, the consumer has to change the supply voltage from LT to HT.

In February last year, KSERC issued new regulations called the ‘Kerala State Electricity Regulatory Commission (Renewable Energy and Net Metering) Regulations, 2020’. The state directed the distribution licensees to constitute an in-house renewable energy cell to promote renewable deployment in the state within one month.

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