Solar in Delhi NCR

How Electricity Boards Are Doing Everything To Make Solar Power Systems Fail In India

Mr Khurana cares about the smog that engulfs Delhi NCR’s air post-Diwali every year. He cares about all the trees being cut around across the year. He gets upset about all his neighbours using diesel gensets. He doesn’t like the fact that his electricity bill runs into 5 digits in summer months.

Electricity boards across states do not care about any of the above.

Our honourable Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, and his cabinet ministers have time and again expressed India’s commitment to fight global warming. Our government has declared super-aggressive solar targets for the country (100 GW by 2022) and our power minister, Mr Piyush Goyal, is so confident of all the parties involved in solar that he openly challenged Munich, Germany last week to a race to run on 100% clean energy before our holy city, Varanasi.

The babu sitting behind counters in BSES/DHBVN/UHBVN couldn’t care less about all this – for all they care, global warming is a myth à la Trump and India’s commitments/reputation across the world is just a joke to them.

Our Story

ZunRoof has now arguably the highest number of residential solar rooftops across Delhi NCR, having started the journey a year ago. We have been able to solve the two main reasons for residential systems not picking up before we came in – first, understanding and delivering customised solutions for home-owners and second, pre-engineering with our super-quick/inexpensive/accurate in-house applications.

So, what is the reason behind this rant by an entrepreneur seemingly on way to playing more than his part in India’s march towards Solar leadership across the world?

For solar rooftop systems to work, the best way is for them to be grid-tied where the home-owners can sell electricity produced from PhotoVoltaic Panels back to the grid. Government subsidies are also applicable only to grid-tied systems. All our installations till date are grid-tied. Who decides when/which/how the systems are allowed to go grid-tied?

You guessed it right – our babus from BSES/DHBVN/other electricity boards (DISCOMS) across states.

Let’s play a quick quiz to see how are they performing

Q. Firstly, do these DISCOMS have a set process to approve grid-tied systems? Secondly, can a home-owner get all approvals from a single window?

A. No and No; it changes from city to city, sector to sector.

Q. Do they change the process willy-nilly every couple of weeks? Do they treat applicants who have gone in this scorching heat to apply as fellow human beings?

A. Yes and No. Maybe someone who is ready to pay bribes, but not the normal human beings

Q. What does it say on their websites about home occupancy/ownership proof?

A. It asks for “house tax receipt”

Q. Okay, so if someone owns an independent house (all the floors), that is a proof of owning the roof of that house too?

A. No – they think house tax receipt should mention rooftop ownership explicitly

Q. Wait a minute, they themselves mentioned that “house tax receipt” will work as a proof, right?

A. Yes, they did. But, now they want some other document for the same thing.

Q. Ummm, and how many days to they turn-around one’s application in?

A. Here is a fun answer – you should have no service level expectations from them. Rather they can take 70,000 days and you can’t do anything about it. Seriously, allowing a private company to have such lack of accountability in today’s world can’t be a laughing matter

Q. Do the home-owners need to go through any other approval process?

A. Oh, yes. Home-owners have to get a pre-approval for subsidy from Solar Energy Corporation of India and MNRE channel partners are only allowed to install these systems. And if you are in Haryana, there is one more government department, HAREDA to get approval from.

Q. How many days do you promise to your clients?

A. 60 days and we usually complete the system within 45 days and then it is a wait of 45-90 days to infinity for this approval from the DISCOMS

Q. And all through this, home-owner has already made 100% payment to you?

A. No, we have had to let 5-10 % remain with them to give them comfort and end up hampering ours and our vendors’ cash-flows specially given that subsidies come only after a few months of approval from DISCOMS

Here is the kicker though – a home-owner like Mr Khurana pays us lakhs of rupees, PV panels are installed on his roof, sun is beating down on them and he can’t use all this electricity. Tell me one business model which can work in such a hostile environment for the end-customer.

Appeal to Mr Narendra Modi

I, on behalf of the entire solar community including all home-owners of India, would like to request our honourable Prime Minister and his cabinet to look into this at the earliest – the rooftop revolution we have launched and are accelerating every month will come to an end. Don’t let the country down.

Appeal to all home-owners of Delhi NCR:

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One comment

  1. Great way to make your point! I love the Q&A format. I have a question/suggestion. All these decisions can’t be let upon Mr. Modi. I am glad Zunroof is identifying the ground-level problems in the process and I believe you need to reach out to local level authorities (State bodies/municipalities/these private companies) to instigate changes. You should pinpoint problems to them, propose solutions and some of them will be implemented as policies/laws. I am sure you must be doing this on some level and I would love to hear about it. Overall, we need this level of transparency in every sector in India where we know whats the local policies, who makes/changes them and why.

    I am in US, working in the energy sector and a major component of any industry here is lobbying that reaches out to the right people who can make changes on a state/city level. This also inspires a competition amongst other states to achieve higher levels. Some times different states follow different methodologies (market driven or regulatory) to reach the same goal.

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