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Off the Grid

by Huma Sadaf

Net Metering: the need of the hour.

If we go to the street and ask the people about one problem that troubles them the most and they want it to be solved on urgent basis the most frequent answer will be the shortage of electricity. Every man woman and child in every corner of country is affected by the power shortages. In some areas the situation is worse, in some others it is little better, but the whole nation is affected by the power shortages.

The decision makers and government officials have finally heeded what the power analysts have been suggesting for quite some time, and in September 2015 the government changed the policies of NEPRA (National Electric Power Regulatory Authority) to encourage net metering.

Net metering is a process that helps the consumers to generate their own electricity through solar or wind panels and sell it to the distribution companies (DISCOs) which share it with others. Although it is not as common as the UPS (Universal Power Supply) usage, still the sight of solar panels on rooftops of residential places is not all that uncommon.

According to the Net Metering Law the owners of wind and solar energy producing systems will get licenses for power generation under the new NEPRA law and will have to register the make and model of their generators and inverters.

If the concept really gets implemented, the consumers will get three-phase electricity meters (or connections). To understand the concept better, we can imagine a household producing some amount of electricity with its solar power panels during the day but the consumption is lower than the production at that moment but they want it to be available to them later when there is no solar power (at night), they send the extra energy to the grid. At night when the solar system does not produce any energy they get the power from the grid.

The consumer making the extra energy is compensated in monetary benefits. The Net Metering system has been implemented in US and is a success. This does not only help the consumer but it also helps the electricity department with catering the needs of the neighborhood. It is almost like a payback to the community but a pay back where we also get benefits.

The chief minister of Punjab, Mian Shahbaz Sharif, has been distributing solar panels among the students since 2013. Only if the operation is expanded to the other sections of society and government takes initiatives to help the public get solar installments on cheap prices or soft installments, the power crisis can be dealt with.

In United States, the government has provided the general public with special electricity meters necessary for the net metering. The consumers pay the government back in installments and in terms of power generation, too. These meters monitor the power flow in both directions. It keeps record of when the consumer is using the power from the grid (public energy) and when they are sending the energy to the grid (the extra energy they produced). The bills at the end of the month come with the amount of the money they contributed in terms of power generation, deducted from their utility bills. For example if a household is charged 1,000 rupees in general and they start to contribute 500 rupees worth of electricity every month, at the end of the month, the bill that they will need to pay will be 500 rupees rather than 1,000 rupees.

Meter

When you send the energy to the grid the meter literally runs backwards

 

The net metering has been implemented in our neighboring country India, too. Six of the Indian states including Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Utterakhand, Andhra Pradesh, Delhi and Maharashtra have announced their Net Metering policies and the consumers contact their electricity supply companies to check their state regulations about Net Metering.

Yes, the government needs to invest into the grid-development and solar power equipment but wouldn’t this investment be smaller than what we are spending on trying to cope with the issue, already?

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2 Comments

  1. Fareeha Qayoom said:

    Battles Over Net Metering Cloud the Future of Rooftop Solar

    Nevada’s reversal of net metering fees for solar owners marks a dramatic turn in the fight over solar policies.

    by Richard Martin January 5, 2016
    Solar power installer SolarCity, the country’s largest provider of rooftop panels, has exited the Nevada market in the wake of the state’s rollback of the net metering fees paid to residential solar owners. The departure marks an escalation in the war over net metering that is roiling the industry.

    https://www.technologyreview.com/s/545146/battles-over-net-metering-cloud-the-future-of-rooftop-solar/

  2. Fareeha Qayoom said:

    Here’s another interesting story…

    Energy

    Tesla-SolarCity Success Depends on Battery Technology That Doesn’t Yet Exist

    Elon Musk is making bold claims about creating a new energy company, but the key ingredient to make it work remains elusive.

    by Richard Martin June 22, 2016
    Vowing to create “the world’s only vertically integrated energy company offering end-to-end clean energy products to our customers,” Tesla CEO Elon Musk said on Tuesday that the electric-vehicle maker plans to acquire SolarCity, the largest U.S. installer of rooftop solar arrays. Musk is also the chairman and cofounder of SolarCity, and his cousin Lyndon Rive is the company’s CEO.

    https://www.technologyreview.com/s/601757/tesla-solarcity-success-depends-on-battery-technology-that-doesnt-yet-exist/

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