Net metering has paved the way for increased investments in renewable energy in the Philippines, Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi stressed in comments at an event Friday.
Cusi’s comments were part of a program held at the PNOC Theatre of the DOE Compound to orient consumers about the net metering program of Meralco in observance of Consumer Welfare Month 2016.
Under the net metering program, electricity end-users with their own renewable energy installations—such as solar, wind or biomass—not exceeding 100 kilowatts (kW) capacity can sell electricity they generate in excess of what they consume directly to their distribution utility (DU).
During the lecture, Meralco’s Program Manager for Renewable Energy Anna Maria Reodica recalled the first-ever net metering customer in the country with a 5 kW rooftop solar PV system energized by Meralco in Nov. 2013.
Meralco started with one customer under the net metering program in 2013. By end-2015, the power distributor had more than 200, she reported.
As of May 2016, Meralco had 392 net metering customers, all with rooftop solar installations having an average capacity of four kW.
Net metering applications have been growing at an exponential rate, Reodica said, expanding from rooftop installations in households to commercial and industrial establishments such as malls, schools, offices, banks, cold storage facilities, and warehouses.
“In the past few months, we saw a seven percent month-to-month increase in installations. You can see that the trend is going up and this means the net metering program is consistently growing,” she said.
Based on the group’s market research, Reodica attributed the growing trend to the lower cost of the solar photovoltaic (PV) systems and the price of electricity.
Energy chief Cusi said that to help disseminate information about the net metering mechanism, the National Electrification Administration (NEA) took the initiative in 2014 to gather 80 electric cooperatives in the country to learn about Meralco’s net metering implementation, which included a visit to the Solar PV Net Metering Pilot Project in their Ortigas compound.
Cusi advised customers to exercise caution by informing their distribution utility of any Solar PV or RE installations to ensure safety to both parties and preserve the stability of the grid where they are connected.
“These RE systems are “grid-tied” systems (operate in parallel with the DU network). They may create disturbance to the system and neighboring customers if left unchecked,” Cusi explained.
The net metering orientation was not the first to be conducted. DOE’s Renewable Energy Management Bureau, the Energy Regulatory Commission, and the National Renewable Energy Board have also held similar information sessions.