Private firms, claiming to be the franchises of empanelled solar power companies, are doing brisk business in the city in the absence of guidelines to govern their operations.
If the projects fail, the customers may have to directly deal with the mother companies located in other parts of the country as the projects will be billed in their name, warned experts in the field.
As many as 10 agencies were found operating in the city offering solar power solutions. Company officials who replied to the telephone calls maintained that they were the franchises of firms approved by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) for the rooftop projects.
Inquiries also revealed that rooftop home solar power projects were being offered for a price ranging between Rs. 1.25 lakh to 2.30 lakh for a 1kw project in the city.
Companies also painted different pictures on the subsidies available to customers for the home solar power projects. Putting the responsibility on claiming the subsidies on the customers, some company officials offered to support the caller for obtaining the benefits. The representative of one firm offered to complete the documentation for the process even while asserting that it was the responsibility of the customer to claim the subsidy. Another executive said there was a delay of over three months for obtaining the State subsidy. Some others advised to file online applications with the Ministry for obtaining the benefits.
An executive of a Kalamassery-based firm suggested that the customer should register himself with the Agency for Non Conventional Energy and Rural Technology (ANERT) for availing of the State government subsidy. A representative of a firm located at Kadavanthra asked the customer to be in the waiting list of ANERT for obtaining subsidy. The customer should himself initiate the steps for claiming the central subsidy, he said.
After enquiring whether the caller had earlier registered himself with ANERT for claiming the subsidy, the company representative said the time for registration had expired. The deadline ended on March 31 and only 10,000 customers were enrolled for the project. If someone opts out of the scheme, one may be enrolled, referring to the ANERT scheme he said.
Another firm based at Kaloor suggested that the customer should remit Rs. 2 lakh for its 1kw project. The customer would be billed in the name of the mother company located at Mumbai. The bills would be later despatched to Mumbai for claiming the subsides, he said.
The executive of another company said the specifications fixed by ANERT proved to be a failure. He also admitted that his company had not found place in the list of empanelled companies.
Responding to the issue, ANERT director M. Jayaraju said there were no guidelines governing the operations of the franchises of the empanelled firms in the business. The empanelled firms must be outsourcing the work and claiming the subsidy from the authorities. The franchises would be getting a share of profit, he said.