LAHORE: Up to 70MW of electricity has been added to the Lahore Electric Supply Company (Lesco) system through solar power net metering connections. The company expects the addition of another 30MW in the next couple of months due to the rising trend of net metering connections in all service areas, especially the metropolitan city of Lahore, Dawn has learnt.

“The company has added around 70MW in its distribution network spreading over a vast area of the Lahore city district and the districts of Kasur, Sheikhupura and Nankana Sahib through the installation of several net metering connections. And it is likely to reach up to 100MW within next couple of months if the present rising trend of getting net metering continues,” Lesco Superintending Engineer (SE) Muhammad Rasheed Chaudhry told Dawn on Saturday.

The solar net-metering allows any of domestic, commercial or industrial consumers having a three-phase meter connection to be part of the power generation system by installing it on his/her premises (house, shop, factory, open spaces, etc). Under the arrangements, such a consumer may sell the additional energy to the respective power distribution company and make stocktaking (calculations) with it at the end of the month.

Since the system allows the consumers to generate electricity from 1KW to 1MW, the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) issues licenses to the applicants residing in the service area jurisdiction of all power distribution companies. Before issuance of the license, the respective companies receive, scrutinize and process such applications.

Since the net metering project launched in 2016, the Nepra issued 20 generation licenses to as many as 20 people in December 2016 in Lahore alone. And later the number of applicants started rising due to increasing use of solar power.

According to an internal document, Lesco as of May 31 received 3,850 applications, of which 3,551 were sent to Nepra for issuance of licenses. Of 3,551 applications, Nepra issued licenses to 3,357 applicants and Lesco installed 2,598 connections. However, nine applications were canceled for being not eligible or lacking some required documents/legal formalities. In the service areas of Lesco circle-2 alone, the company installed 140 net metering connections last month.

“As of June 5, I think the number of applications has reached around 4,000 as the people are keen to have net metering that allows a private/public individual, company, or entity to use and sell their solar power through net metering. It is an automated system that benefits the consumer as well as the company. Moreover, it is helping the government to make some addition to the total power generation and consumption of the country,” the Lesco SE explained.

He said the company was trying hard to reduce time to quickly process the applications at its own and Nepra level.

“I think, Nepra seems overburdened due to which the application process to issue generation license takes some time. But it is not a major issue, as the authority has so far issued a number of licenses to the applicants.

“The company is also making efforts to reduce the application process time so that more and more applications could be given connections under a fast track policy,” Mr Chaudhry said.

Lesco’s peak days (summer) demand ranges between 4,000 to 4,500MW. A couple of days before, it recorded the ongoing summer’s highest peak of 4,300MW due to severe hot weather. In winter, the company’s demand reduces to between 2,000 to 2,500MW on average.

Published in Dawn, June 6th, 2021

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