SOLAR panels are seen at the Interloop Dairy Farm in Sheikhupura; and (right) a net meter installed at the facility.—Dawn
SOLAR panels are seen at the Interloop Dairy Farm in Sheikhupura; and (right) a net meter installed at the facility.—Dawn

LAHORE: The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) decision of allowing commercial banks to extend cheaper loans for conversion of tube-well operations to solar power for availing the net metering facility, the power distribution companies have started receiving an overwhelming response from such consumers across the country.

Under the provisions, the tube-well connections seeking net metering on a load up to 25kW will not require permission from the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) for the grant of generation licence, Dawn has learnt.

The facility will not only convert most such connections on solar but also enable consumers to produce and use the electricity on their own besides selling the additional/surplus to the respective Discos. It will also control the technical and commercial losses (power losses either due to theft or technical reasons).

“The tube-well connections can be converted to net-metering but the response was not good due to considerable investment (around Rs2 to 3 million on each connection), lack of loaning facility and awareness. Now the SBP has announced a loaning facility on a six per cent markup for launching such small schemes,” explained Lahore Electric Supply Company’s Market Implementation and Regulatory Affairs Director-General Altaf Qadir while talking to Dawn.

Moreover, the increasing power tariff due to fuel price adjustment and other issues have forced consumers having tube-well connections to contact us in this regard,” he added.

The net metering project had been launched in 2016 countrywide. It allows any domestic, commercial, industrial and other consumers having at least 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 one kilowatt to one megawatt, Nepra issues licences to the applicants residing in the service area jurisdiction of all distribution companies. Before issuance of the licence, the respective companies are supposed to receive, scrutinise and process such applications.

According to Mr Qadir, there are hundreds of thousands of tube-well connections in the service areas of all nine Discos including Lesco, Faisalabad Electric Supply Company (Fesco), Multan Electric Power Company (Mepco), Gujaranwala Electric Power Company (Gepco), Islamabad Electric Supply Company (IESCO), Peshawar Electric Supply Company (Pesco), Tribal Area Electric Supply Company (Tesco), Quetta Electric Supply Company (Qesco), Sukkar Electric Power Company (Sepco) and Hyderabad Electric Supply Company (Hesco).

It may be mentioned that most of such connections exist in a vast rural area of Mepco. The number here ranges between 60,000 to 70,000. Similarly, Lesco has 25,000 to 30,000 connections and most exist in the areas of its Kasur and Okara circles. Qesco, Gepco, Pesco, Hesco, Sepco and other companies also have a large number of such connections.

Answering a question Mr Qadir said Lesco has so far processed as many 6,000 net metering related applications out of which most (equaling to 100MW or so) have been issued generation licence by Nepra.

Published in Dawn, March 12th, 2022

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