By - King Stubb & Kasiva on August 16, 2023
India is the third largest energy consumer globally and holds a prominent position in the energy landscape. India has invested in building a robust infrastructure to harness renewable energy sources. With the aim of promoting open access and the utilization of renewable energy sources, the Ministry of Power (Ministry) took a momentous stride on 16th August 2021 by unveiling the Draft Electricity (Promoting Renewable Energy Through Green Energy Open Access) Rules, 2021.
This move signifies the government's commitment to encouraging the widespread adoption of renewable energy and facilitating its accessibility through open access mechanisms. The Ministry of Power took a significant step on 6 June 2022 by officially notifying the finalized Electricity (Promoting Renewable Energy Through Green Energy Open Access) Rules, 2022. The primary objective of these Rules is to facilitate the generation, purchase, and consumption of green energy. Recently, MERC has ruled out that provisions of the Green Energy Open Access rule, 2022, and as amended from time to time by the Government are to be followed by all concerned authorities.
In case of any inconsistency in MERC’s regulations, then the provision of Green Energy Open Access Rules will prevail. It also directed the MSEDCL and other distribution licensees to follow the guidelines and it allows the Green Energy Open Access Rules to come into effect in Maharashtra.
In order to promote the adoption of renewable energy by smaller consumers, the open access cap has been revised. Previously, consumers need to have a minimum power requirement of 1 MW (megawatt) to avail open access. However, with the new Second Amendment Rules, this threshold has been significantly lowered to just 100 kW (kilowatt).
This means that smaller consumers can now access renewable power by having a connection with a capacity of 100 kW or more. They can achieve this either through a single connection of 100 kW or through multiple connections that add up to 100 kW or more.
Furthermore, for consumers who generate their electricity from self-use plants (captive electricity), there is no minimum requirement for open access to green energy. This provision is designed to encourage smaller consumers to gradually transition to alternative energy sources and procure electricity through open access.
To facilitate the purchase of electricity through open access, a consumer interested in this option must submit an application to a nodal agency. The Rules suggest the establishment of a central nodal agency responsible for creating and managing a unified platform dedicated to renewable energy-specific open access. The government's objective in introducing this platform is to make it inclusive and accessible to all stakeholders in the power sector, comprising both sellers and buyers involved in open access transactions. This agency will play a pivotal role in simplifying the procedures related to open access, thereby encouraging more active participation from various entities in the renewable energy market.
The Renewable Energy Purchase Obligations (RPO) framework is established by the Act and Tariff Policy, 2016. It mandates certain entities, including distribution licensees, captive users, open access consumers, and other entities identified by State Regulatory Commissions, to procure a specific percentage of their electricity consumption from renewable sources. The primary objective of RPO is to ensure a gradual shift towards a greener energy mix and promote the use of renewable energy in the country’s power generation.
The primary objective of the Rules is to establish uniformity in the Renewable Purchase Obligations (RPO) for all obligated entities operating under a distribution licensee’s jurisdiction. To fulfill their RPO requirements, these entities have several methods at their disposal:-
Energy banking plays a crucial role in ensuring the long-term sustainability of renewable energy generator projects. It involves depositing surplus energy generated by renewable energy sources with distribution licensees and later withdrawing it when needed.
According to the Rules, energy banking is made available to open access users. Open access users have the option to engage in energy banking on a monthly basis. The distribution licensee is mandated to provide this service to open access users for at least 30% of their total monthly energy consumption from that particular distribution licensee. The specific banking fees applicable to this service will be determined by the State Electricity Regulatory Commission. It facilitates more efficient utilization of renewable energy by allowing surplus power to be stored and used as needed, ensuring a smoother integration of renewable energy sources into the power grid.
The process of transporting electricity from generating stations to consumers involves the participation of multiple agencies, each with specific roles and responsibilities. As per the Rules, consumers who choose open access from green energy sources are only required to pay the following fees:-
Overall, the implementation of these Rules is expected to have far-reaching positive impacts on India's efforts to ensure a greener future and move towards achieving its net-zero carbon emissions target by 2070. It represents a significant step forward in the country's transition to a sustainable and environmentally responsible energy system.
The primary objective of this initiative is to align with India's updated NDC (Nationally Determined Contributions) target for 2030 and reduce emissions by 45%.
It is expected to prompt smaller industries, commercial consumers, and large households to shift towards green energy.
Energy banking is important in ensuring the long-term sustainability of renewable energy generator projects and it involves depositing of surplus energy generated by renewable energy sources with distribution licensees and later withdrawing it whenever required.
 Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation vs Maharashta State Electricity Distribution Co. Ltd, Case No 165 of 2023.
 Rule 4(1), Electricity (Promoting Renewable Energy Through Green Energy Open Access) Rules, 2022.
 Rule 4(2) Electricity (Promoting Renewable Energy Through Green Energy Open Access) Rules, 2022.
 Rule 8, Electricity (Promoting Renewable Energy Through Green Energy Open Access) Rules, 2022.