Shyam Sundar Kalita (61), a former employee of Guwahati Refinery under Indian Oil Corporation Ltd and a resident of Jyotinagar area in Guwahati, had long been thinking of ways and means to cut down on his electricity bills. Not because he could not afford it but he was keen to go green, and save power. And at the same time, he was not too keen to invest much in installing solar plates on his rooftop. The day he heard that the Assam Power Distribution Company Ltd was offering subsidy to encourage households to install these panels on their rooftop to generate renewable and green power, he made up his mind. “I knew I had to go for these Rooftop Solar Plates. In March last year, I availed of the Government subsidy and installed these panels to generate four KW of solar power. My total investment after subsidy was ₹ 1.18 lakh,” he told Asom Barta.
“It is cheaper than conventional electricity. My electricity bill is much lower compared to the pre-solar power days. I save ₹ 1500 to
₹ 1800 each month,” said Kalita, adding, “this is a one-time investment. The life expectancy of the panel is almost 25 years. Maintenance expense is nominal as well. Every month, APDCL engineers visit my residence to inspect the functioning of these panels,” he said.
To top it all, he is also contributing to powering other homes because whatever extra power he generates through his rooftop panels goes back to APDCL through the grid. His example is encouraging his neighbours as well.
Dr Pulin Barua is in his late 80s. A resident of the Sundarpur area in Guwahati, he is a retired Army Colonel from the Armed Forces Medical Services. He, too, has benefited from the APDCL scheme on solar panels by installing 12 panels to generate 4KW. “It was my son, also an Army officer, Col Tushar Kanti Baruah, who was instrumental in installing the solar panels,” he said.
Talking to this reporter over phone from his posting site out of the State, Col. Tushar said that during his posting in Rajasthan a few years ago, he witnessed how people in that State generated power from sun rays.
“Power thus generated is cost effective. It is a pure form of green energy. We need new sources to generate power. Although in Assam the sun ray is not as powerful and intrinsic as in other States of western India, yet it is good enough to generate power,” he said. “I have installed solar panels at a Naamghar in my grandparents’ name in our ancestral village at Lakuwa in Sivasagar district as well,” the Colonel added.
The retired Colonel informed this correspondent that his family has been able to save between ₹ 1,500 to 1,800 per month on electricity bills by providing additional solar power to the APDCL’s grid.
Baishali Talukdar, an engineer with APDCL said that till November 2022 the company has put in place mechanisms to generate around 249.89 MW of solar projects across the State, including large scale MW generation grid connected solar power plants (179 MW), grid connected rooftop solar power plants (30.80 MW) and off grid solar system (40.09MW).
The Grid Connected Rooftop Solar Power Plants have been installed in residential, institutional, social, industrial sectors throughout the State under Rooftop Subsidy Programme of Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), as well as under the State Budgetary Scheme of the Assam Government. The industrial sector has installed rooftop solar through private developers.
“The project will help to meet a certain portion of the increasing power demand of the State through green energy and optimise power procurement by APDCL,” she said.
Binoy Nath, an engineer of the APDCL’s New and Renewable Energy wing, added that the entire process is hassle free because there is a single window clearances and applications are approved in no time.
In solar systems installed on rooftops, electricity generated could be fed into the grid at regulated feed-in tariffs or may be used for self-consumption with a net-metering approach, he informed this newsletter.
It is because of the ease with which subsidy is being released by the APDCL and plates are being monitored that Santanu Chakraborty, a residence of Silpukhuri in Guwahati, had no problem in installing solar plates to generate three KW of solar power and thereby helping him trim ₹ 1200-1500 of his power bills each month.
“Not only we are saving money but the way in which engineers of APDCL are monitoring it, we feel that these panel will stay in service for long,” said Chakrabarty.