Model may work for India, presented with changes keeping Indian Scenario
city of Lancaster, California recently adopted an ordinance requiring
builders of most new homes to install functional solar power generation
systems on these homes prior to their sale to the public. The law is
believed to be the first in the nation to actually mandate the
installation of solar systems. Californians may recall that the California
Environmental Protection Agency, in 2004, advocated the adoption of a home
solar power mandate that would have required home builders to include
solar power in at least 5% of new homes by 2010 (a figure that was
proposed to increase to 50% by 2020). That proposal, which comprised a
portion of the agency’s “Million Solar Homes” initiative, never came
The Lancaster law, built into the zoning code, is
effective with respect to all new home construction permits issued after
January 1, 2014. To obtain a building permit, 1 kilowatt of installed
solar generation capacity per home within a proposed subdivision is
generally required. There is some flexibility built into the law in that
it does not necessarily require solar systems to be installed on each and
every home within a particular subdivision. For example, for a subdivision
consisting of 10 homes, the requirement can be met by having 2 homes that
each has 5 kilowatts of solar installed or 4 homes that each has 2.5
kilowatts installed. Builders are also required to include solar energy
systems on model homes that are reflective of the solar energy systems
that will be offered to homebuyers.
It should come as no surprise that Lancaster is the
first city to adapt such a law. Lancaster’s Mayor, Republican R. Rex
Parris, is known as a champion of solar, and Lancaster is miles ahead of
almost all cities in the country with respect to its support of solar
power and its efforts to increase commercial and residential installation
of solar power systems. In 2009, Lancaster worked with E-Solar to
streamline the permitting and construction process for the company’s
Sierra SunTower project, a 5MW solar thermal project that was completed in
just 14 months. In 2010, the city launched the Solar Lancaster program, a
public-private partnership with SolarCity designed to provide affordable
solar system financing for residential, commercial and non-profit
customers. That program resulted in the installation of solar systems on
19 different Lancaster School District sites, a Toyota dealership, a
church, a minor league baseball stadium, and numerous other municipal
buildings. Residential installations have also been proliferating, with
one research group calculating that the city has tripled the number of
residential installations in the past 18 months. Mayor Parris and the city
have managed to cast an impressive global reach when it comes to sharing
their vision of a solar powered world – Lancaster in 2012 won first
prize in the “Fire” category of the Wolfgang Neumann Energy Globe
World Awards in Vienna, Austria, and the Mayor was one of the keynote
speakers at the 2012 World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi, United Arab
This is a model, which may suit India in its
development towards a solar economy. This would help us to generate lot of
energy. The model would for sure increase the prices of residential
buildings but with the decreasing prices of solar installations one would
find it feasible to buy a house with at which has at-least 500 Watt of
solar energy utilization.
In the recent times the Government is proposing to pass
a Real Estate Bill in the Monsoon session (2013) of the Parliament and I
would like the Government to consider the model of Lancaster and make
required amendments to the proposed bill.
Colonizer / Builder license should be given only to those who have
fulfilled the following criteria:
1. 20% Total consumption of the
proposed colony/project, assuming (at 3kW per flat/Bungalow), lifts,
street lights, Lights in common area should be produced using Solar PV.
2. In case of Bungalows, flexibility
should be given to each roof top to have facility for Solar Panel to be
installed, or a separate cluster of Solar panels to be used to provide
Solar Power to set of Bungalows Say 2kVA cluster for set of 4 Bungalows.
3. Geysers option should be
disallowed and Solar Water heater should be used for running hot water
requirements. This should be made mandatory.
4. TNCP approval should be granted to
Colonizers / Builders only when these provisions are included in the
colonizers project designs and proposal.
5. No registration of flats /
Bungalows should be done by registrar unless colonizers receives
completion certificate by the Municipal Corporation.
6. The law should have serious
punishments for Authorities giving Completion Certificate / Doing
Registrations etc. without actual site inspection.
7. For Banking institutions providing
loan, 25% of the loan amount should be kept in hold and payment should be
made to the builder / colonizer when Builder provides possession
certificate duly signed by the customer.
8. Subsidies should be provided to
Builders and Colonizer using LED lights.
9. To begin with Enlisting large
builder groups (Adani, Godrej, Mantri, Purvankara, DFL, Gammon, Alakriti,
GMR and the likes) – who are putting up very large township
constructions projects to incorporate residential solar PV systems in
their complexes. Easily available: Rooftops, terraces, building facades,
parking areas offer endless possibilities – where the builder has his
10. Builders and real estate
companies incorporating solar PV should be eligible for Carbon Credits
– since this form of energy generation is definitely less polluting by
GRIHA. These Carbon credits can be traded.
11. Owners of the units – (those
purchasing these flats / houses) can be given some concession in
registration / stamp duty – as an incentive.
12. Cost of solar PV panels is
expected to drop further and will touch reasonable prices. Besides
technology is also advancing – where efficiency and harvesting is
increasing. Coupled with twin axis trackers – these can be fine tuned to
provide better yield. On the other hand – cost of smaller rating
inverters – string inverters and other connected power electronics too
is coming to more reasonable levels. Making the model more meaningful.
13. If a builder or a construction
company goes for grid sharing type Solar Power Generation System (Common
for the project) Excess un-utilized power should be pumped back into grid.
14. This law should be made
applicable to older buildings in phases.
This way India can save at-least 20% of current
electricity produced thru Hydro / Thermal / Nuclear projects currently
We all know how important conserving electricity has
become now a day, and our state government and their designated agencies
have a great role to play under the Energy Conservation Act 2001 and in
various other policies. The important actions, which the state government
and their designated agencies have to under go, are listed below:
Under Section 56 of the said act it is the duty of
the state government to follow up with the Central government for
notification regarding the amendments, so the state functions can be
taken up in a very smooth manner. So it is even the duty of the state
government to give up suggestions for conserving energy.
Under section 57 of the said act the state
government has to notify the newly developed rules in the public.
Section 17 of the said act gives sole right to the
state government to appoint an inspector to look forward to the
activity of conserving energy.
Section 26 of the Said act clearly gives right to
the state government to to appoint an adjudicating officer. The main
task of the adjudicating officer is to solve various dispute under
energy conservation in the particular state.
Section 16 of the said act gives sole rights to the
state government to allocate more funds for energy conservation.
Under section 18 of the said act the state
government has the right to issue notification and comprehensive
directions to all the public sector undertakings to follow the energy
I would even like the law ministry to amend this
section and give more powers to the state government by giving them the
right to even give directions to private sector and big cooperate Houses
and even residential homes to follow energy norms and a different
provisions should be made for strict punishment if they do not follow the
The said act even gives the right to the state
government and the designated agencies to appoint a manager who would look
at whether the energy conservation norms are being followed or not.
The Act has a very limited scope and there is a need to
introduce new changes by including Residential places and big industries
under the perview of this Act.
These were some of the points, which the state
government has to under go under the Energy Conservation Act 2001. In the
year 2002, under section 3 of the said act Bureau of Energy Efficiency
(BEE). The powers and functions of the BEE have been clearly spelt under
Section 13 of EC Act 2001. Following are the functions of the BEE.
Appointment of energy directors.
Publish the details of the energy savings achieved
under various pilot projects.
Updating the BEE website and clearly mentioning the
various activities of the BEE.
The BEE has the sole rights to give directions to
the public sector undertakings for the adoption of energy efficient
Under Section 55 of the EC Act 2001 The BEE has the
sole right to give directions to the state government to take steps
under section 15 to 18 and 57 of the said Act.
Actions required for appointment of the
The BEE has the sole right to to constitute an
state advisory committee.
Launching of the small energy savings scheme in
These were rights and duties of the state
government and their designated agencies under the same EC Act 2001.
The same rights and duties should be given to the state government
under the real estate act so that each state government can keep a
clear check on the activities on energy conservation.
I for one, firmly believe in legislating a law
in which all urban household should generate 500 VA of Solar for getting a
3 kVA connection & Government buildings should have 25% of total
electricity requirement generated thru Solar as a bare minimum requirement
for approval of the project. Electricity saved thru generation in urban
areas can then be transmuted to rural areas where also similar solar power
generation can be followed.
This will give impetus to MNRE scheme and can help
India reach its Solar 2020 vision and beyond.
BALAJI SAI KRISHNAN
STUDENT, NATIONAL LAW INSTITUTE UNIVERSITY
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