Delhi: Solar subsidy to return in new avatar

India, June 10 -- There may be some respite from increasing power bills in the city soon. Delhi government's environment department, which had done away with the subsidy it used to provide on installing solar water heaters, has now decided to reintroduce it although in a different way.

The department has proposed to provide the subsidy on solar water heaters by linking it directly to the electricity bills of the consumers. The earlier subsidy was provided to domestic and non-commercial institutes which ranged between Rs.6,000 to Rs.60,000.

"We found out that a number of consumers were misusing the subsidy, especially the non-commercial institutes. They were not really making use of the facility and the equipment was not being maintained. We are planning to link it to the electricity bills of the consumers so that they get direct benefit," said a senior Delhi government official.

The Delhi government had written to the power distribution companies, seeking their views as they will play a crucial role in implementing the move. Discoms will have to provide rebate on the power bills, which will be routed through the environment department.

"It is the discoms who send power bills to the consumers so we have asked for their views on how to implement it. For instance, every year their workers are required to check the meters so at that they can also check whether the solar panels are being maintained properly and the facility is being used by the consumers," added the official.

The environment department will also carry out random inspections to check whether people are actually using the facility.

This proposal will be placed in the Cabinet's meeting for a final approval. "A third party inspection was carried out and it was found that a number of people especially the non-commercial institutes were not making use of solar energy. A number of other states are also providing subsidy by linking it to power bills. This scheme is doing quite well in Rajasthan," said the official.

Delhi government had discontinued the subsidy it used to offer residents for installing solar panels from April 1. According to the officials, a decision was taken in a Cabinet meeting to review the scheme of providing subsidy, which had started in 2008 to encourage people to conserve energy.

Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.

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