Open access is a system that allows consumers to sidestep their distribution company and buy energy directly from the open market.
In a bid to promote the adoption of renewable energy, the Indian government has started focusing on green open access. In recent years, several Indian states have been tweaking their policies to make this system more appealing to consumers.
The recent one to join this trend is Maharashtra, which made several amendments to its open access regulations. In this blog, we’ll explain these changes and how they benefit C&I consumers.
But first, let’s understand green open access.
What is Green Open Access?
Green Open Access is for all those entities who wish to transition to clean energy without incurring the cost of installing and maintaining the solar plant. To procure energy this way, consumers enter a power purchase agreement (PPA) with the clean energy developer for a specified period and at a pre-determined tariff. The developer generates the energy and sends it to the consumer’s building.
With this system, Consumers, with a specific sanctioned load, can buy green energy in the open market at a tariff that is lower than fossil-based electricity and cut down on their emissions. Open access provides businesses with a chance to achieve their net-zero goals without requiring a significant investment of time or capital.
In India, many states offer green open-access facilities to consumers with a minimum load requirement of 100kW. Recently, Maharashtra also adopted that change.
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MERC Updates Green Open Access Rules
In November 2023, the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) announced significant amendments to its green open access policy. The biggest change was the 10x reduction in minimum load requirement.
From the previous 1 MW, now consumers with a sanctioned load of 100kW or more can avail green open access. Not only that, consumers with multiple connections in the area, and a total load of 100kW can also benefit from the system.
Captive consumers, on the other hand, can access as much power as they need without encountering constraints.
Additionally, MERC has made it easier for individuals to source energy from rooftop solar installations and open access simultaneously. Earlier, rooftop solar consumers had to switch to gross metering to benefit from open access. However, as per the new changes, this conversion from net metering to gross metering is no longer required.
MERC also specifies that no additional cross-subsidy surcharge will be applicable if a developer supplies power from a non-fossil fuel based waste-to-energy plant to a consumer.
However, the commission has hiked the banking charges to 8%. At the end of every year, any banked energy will lapse, but developers will receive Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) for this lost energy.
Further, the Maharashtra State Load Dispatch Centre and Maharashtra State Transmission Utility will act as the nodal agencies for the system.
The Impact of Policy Changes
Now that we know the amendments, let’s understand what it really means for consumers.
- Small energy consumers like offices, schools, restaurants, and hospitals can now adopt clean energy because the required power demand has decreased.
- It is now more practical for businesses and industries to lower their electricity expenses by embracing renewable energy.
- Consumers can enjoy the advantages of both open access and net metering simultaneously.
- The process of obtaining open access has become simpler and faster due to the determination of the central nodal agency.
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