ISLAMABAD -  Federal Minister for Power Division Awais Leghari has said that with the large consumers’ base, the country can add 2000MW to 3000MW of renewable energy in the system based on net metering connections.

“I am very confident that every ordinary consumer who wishes to avail the benefit of net metering would be able to install renewable energy based net metering system at his residence, shop, factory or agricultural land without any hurdle or worry,” said Federal Minister for Power Division Sardar Awais Ahmed Khan Leghari while addressing the launching ceremony of New Consumer Friendly Net Metering Framework here Wednesday.

He said, “With the large number of consumers all across the country, it is not far when we can add 2000MW to 3000 MW of renewable energy in the system based on net metering connections.”

The minister said that estimates indicate that connecting 5000MW of renewable power to the national grid including that through net metering will result in reducing 4.24 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent annually, equaling to approximately 0.5% of the projected emissions from Pakistan’s energy sector for 2030.

This day marks the beginning of a new era in the electricity sector of Pakistan when we make the process of renewable energy based net metering simplified and hassle free for the ordinary electricity consumers.

The government has been striving to eradicate energy shortages in the country and has taken bold steps that have resulted in bridging the electricity demand supply gap. All resources of power generation including the indigenous resources of the country are being harnessed. In its desire to make Pakistan self-sufficient in meeting its energy demands, the government is exploring all possible avenues of power generation.

However, there are other aspects of the energy crisis which we are yet to effectively tackle, including constraints in the transmission segment of the power sector, inefficiencies in the distribution segment, the circular debt burden, inadequate checks on power theft, so on and so forth, the minister said.

The National Electricity Plan will also enable the government to set targets for future generation projects in a manner which allows for the optimum fuel mix necessary to maintain a consumer-friendly basket price. This is a much-needed move away from an emergency demand based generation mix, which has been made possible because of the aggressive pursuit of the generation policies of our government.

Regarding net metering, he said that it has globally emerged as a successful phenomenon by virtue of which the consumers can utilize the renewable energy potential for meeting their own electricity demands and provide surplus energy to the grid at times. This not only makes the consumers self-reliant to a large extent but also results in lessening the burden on the distribution networks resulting in lesser line losses at distribution level. With the significant decline in prices of solar energy, solar based net metering has now become a very economical and financially viable option for any average energy consumer, even at household and commercial level.

Although the Net Metering regulations were announced by NEPRA in September 2015, however, the overall procedure and process was very difficult and cumbersome for an ordinary consumer. The consumer had to move from door to door, from one agency to another, after filing a request application in order to get necessary approvals and permissions for net metering. The whole process used to take 4 to 6 months at minimum for a small solar system to get connected with the grid and start net metering. The delays and hurdles faced in getting net metering connection were very discouraging even for the high end consumers, let alone the ordinary small consumers.

The current government took up the daunting task of making the whole process of net metering easy and hassle free for ordinary consumers who wish to avail the benefits of net metering. Within a short span of less than two months, the whole framework now been revamped and has been simplified for any ordinary consumer. The timelines and procedures for getting requisite approvals and permissions for net metering have been significantly reduced in the new framework. Now the net metering connections can be obtained in a time period of less than one month. Necessary amendments have already been done in the relevant Regulations and the DISCOs have been prepared to implement the new framework with reduced timelines in true spirit.

Whilst the procedure has been simplified, the government has also addressed the issues relating to quality of equipment and quality of services available to the ordinary consumers. AEDB has initiated certification of vendors/installers and service providers for net metering. These certified vendors and installers are not only bound to provide the best quality equipment to the consumers but are also bound to complete all the procedural requirements for net metering connection on behalf of the consumer. The list of these certified vendors and installers has been made available on websites of Alternative Energy Development Board and all Distribution Companies.