The power-full people you don’t know about
As solar panels get cheaper, more people are embracing the sun. Some of them are not only reducing their electricity bills, they're even selling the surplus to the state. Sunday Times meets the new power producers
When money drops onto your roof
For the past seven months, N K Bhat hasn't paid a penny to the Mangaluru Electricity Supply Company. "Instead I get paid about Rs 2,000 a month," says the resident of Puttur in Mangaluru district, gleefully
Bhat installed a five kilowatt solar power generation system in his house in January. It cost him Rs 6 lakh to install and generates about 20 units of electricity every day. He uses 8 to 10 units. "The rest is sold back to the grid. And because of the net metering system, I get paid, and pay nothing for electricity," he says.
Karnataka's solar policy, which was revised in 2014, encourages households to generate solar power on their rooftops and sell the surplus energy to the state grid. A person selling solar power from a rooftop system gets Rs 7.08 per unit.
Vijay Dutt, a Bengalurean who renovated his 5,000sqft bungalow five years ago, has cut his electricity bill after installing a solar generating system. He still pays electricity bills but that's because he also runs a homestay and rents his kitchen out for baking classes. "My intention was to contribute to the grid but I have to do more work to be entirely self-sufficient. However, solar power has reduced my power bills by half. It is only during the monsoon that I draw power from the grid. In summer and winter, I use my own solar energy," he says.
Across Karnataka, individuals and institutions are looking to the sun and wind for power. Real estate developers are also choosing solar and wind power for new projects. Projects are being planned with solar power generation and consumers are applying for net metering systems so that they can benefit from surplus generation in future.
Institutions like St Joseph's College of Science and Arts, Kempegowda International Airport and Teri and companies like Wipro and Cisco are turning into energy producers as they have huge installations of solar and wind energy systems on their premises.
First published by Times of India