Consumers leaving national grid in bulk to lessen costs

HIT BY HIGH POWER TARIFFS

ISLAMABAD  -  Pakistanis are leaving the national power grid in bulk as the consumers with net-metering connections have increased by almost 76 per cent with a cumulative capacity of 1735 megawatts during the first eight months of the ongoing fiscal year.

However, the number of the off-grid solar consumers is much bigger than the on-grid consumers with net-metering arrangements, official source told The Nation yesterday.

The cumulative capacity of the net metering connections has increased by 65 percent from 1055 MW in June 2023 to 1735 MW in February 2024, said the source. The number of net-metering based consumers has increased by 76 percent from 63,703 to 111,800 during the first eight months of the ongoing fiscal (July to February).

The number of certified installers has meanwhile reached 418 in February 2024 from 325 in June 2023.

During the first eight months of the fiscal year, an average 85 MW per month net-metering based electricity was added to the system, the source said.

If this pace continues, the cumulative capacity of the net-metering based electricity is likely to go up 2100 MW by the end of the ongoing fiscal year, the source claimed.

It is worth to note here that during the last nine years, when the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Alternative & Renewable Energy) Distributed Generation and Net Metering Regulations, 2015, in  September 1, 2015, the cumulative capacity of the net metering had reached 1055 MW, but in just eight months 680 new net-metering connections have been provided.

In the service area of Peshawar Electricity Supply Company, even the cement industries are switching over to solar solutions.

However, the source said that the number of off-grid solar consumers is much bigger than the consumers with net-metering. During the ongoing fiscal year, solar panels with cumulative capacity of 6800 MW have been imported in the country. With the abnormal hike in electricity prices and falling prices of solar panels, more electricity consumers will be pushed to switch over to off-grid or net metering solutions, the source said.

Such a huge departure from the national grid, partially or fully, is due to the high electricity tariffs and multiple taxes in the consumers bills, the source maintained. This bulk departure will also result in further increase in capacity payments and hike in the bills of the consumers still attached with the national grid.

Notably, the power generation has declined by 8.21 percent in March 2024 as compared to the corresponding period last year mainly due to the falling demand in the country.

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