LAHORE: Federal Mini­s­ter for Energy Awais Ahmad Khan Leghari on Sunday said the government had no plans to end the policy of solar net-metering.

The minister’s remarks came in the wake of media reports, claiming that the government was scrapping the policy and replacing it with a new gross-metering mechanism.

Net metering allows consumers to sell excess electricity produced by their solar system to their power distribution company, resulting in significant savings in their electricity bill for the month.

However, under the gross metering mechanism, the electricity generated by consumers’ rooftop solar systems is fed into the national grid, which they will then buy from the disco, potentially reducing the monetary benefit.

While speaking at a press conference at the Lahore Electric Supply Company (Lesco) headquarters, the minister rejected the media reports and said the government would encourage the shift to solar power since the policy was the brainchild of the PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif, who ordered to promote it in his last tenure as prime minister.

“[PML-N] introduced this scheme [solar net-metering] in 2017. And we will continue encouraging the net metering since it is the scheme close to the heart of PM Shahbaz Sharif,” the minister said.

He added the party was “proud” of the scheme as “a large number of people benefitted from it”.

Mr Leghari assured that consumers who had already installed solar power and had a net-metering contract with the Disco “would not be affected at all”.

The government will encourage net metering in future too and any change in the policy would be made after taking all stakeholders into confidence, he added.

He said when the policy was launched in 2017, very few people applied for net-metering licences due to the high prices of the solar panel.

Over time, the number of consumers applying for net metering has increased, and in 2023-24, the number went up by 125pc, he maintained.

He claimed that 0.3pc of the total electricity consumers have rooftop solar net-metering connections. “The number of total net metering connections has reached 113,000.”

Talking about other issues in power sectors, he said the overall demand for electricity has reduced by 8pc due to a decline in industrial growth.

To a question, he said he the Lesco CEO has been directed to complete address system constraints to prevent it from overloading in hot weather.

Without naming the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government, the minister expressed displeasure that “one province has made the issue of power theft political”.

He also expressed hope that the KP CM would present “a viable plan” in the next 15 days for controlling power theft.

Published in Dawn, May 20th, 2024

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