Stree Nidhi is changing the roofs of rural Telangana

Stree Nidhi officials interact with a beneficiary of grid connected solar system in Minarpally village of Nizamabad district. | Photo Credit: NAGARA GOPAL

Grid-connected rooftop solar panels, normally considered a city thing, have started appearing on terraces in rural Telangana, thanks to Stree Nidhi, a cooperative credit facility jointly sponsored by self-help groups and of the State government.

As part of its ‘Climate Financing’ initiatives, the credit cooperative federation financed the installation of grid-connected photovoltaic systems on the roofs of 205 households in 49 villages of 10 districts in the State. The districts are Kamareddy, Jagtial, Sangareddy, Medak, Nirmal, Nizamabad, Jangaon, Karimnagar, Suryapet and Adilabad.

This has resulted in savings of at least 150 units of electricity consumption per household per month, which translates to at least 3.7 lakh units per year. Owing to the results, the Stree Nidhi authorities have set themselves an ambitious target of 10,000 such installations by the end of the year.

According to a circular issued by the State government’s Rural Development wing in December last year, the scheme rides on the subsidy offered by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy for grid connected rooftop solar systems, facilitated by the Telangana State Renewable Energy Development Corporation (TSREDCO) along with power distribution companies.

About 20% of the total installation cost will be offered as subsidy under the scheme, and the rest will be borne by the beneficiary. This is where Stree Nidhi helps, and offers a large portion of the beneficiary’s contribution as a loan. For a 2kWp (Kilowatt peak) unit, the cost is ₹1.44 lakh, the subsidy portion is ₹29,176 and the loan offered is 1.15 lakh. The beneficiary has to pay ₹5,134 upfront fee. For a 3 kWp unit, the beneficiary’s contribution is as low as ₹9,126.

The loan is repayable in 60 months, at an interest rate of 11% per annum. The scheme is available only for self-help group members who have their own RCC building or the double bedroom house allotted by the State government with 160 to 200 square feet of rooftop space.

“Our electricity bill has fallen to the lowest, and we are contributing a large number of units to the grid every month, which is being paid at the rate of ₹4.5 per unit by the discom. While the loan will be repaid within five year, the benefits will accrue for the next 25 years. With electricity bills set to increase every year, I am happy that I chose it,” said Durga Bhavani, a tailor and Village Organization Assistant of the self-help group from in Thimmapur village in Kamareddy district, where 15 installations have been done. .

Badige Venkata Ramana alias Ramu, sarpanch of Ankole village in Kamareddy district, who is the mastermind behind the scheme, has installed it in 14 homes in his village.

“I got this idea while watching a YouTube video of a professor running his electric car with batteries charged from a rooftop solar system. Since the investment was heavy, I approached commercial banks that looking for loans, which was immediately rejected. Then I approached the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly Pocharam Srinivas Reddy who facilitated it through Stree Nidhi,” shared Mr. Venakta Ramana.

Stree Nidhi was started in 2012 as a credit cooperative federation operating on corpus provided partly by self-help groups through block and town level federations, and partly by the government. Established after a large number of suicides in the then united State of Andhra Pradesh by victims of Micro Finance companies, its main objective is to provide micro credit to women members of self-help groups and supplement the flow of credit from the banking sector. Over the years, the society has grown stronger in providing affordable loans with an insurance component.

“We considered it appropriate to launch climate financing to reduce carbon emissions, and with the same goal, started financing the rooftop solar system. We have set ourselves an ambitious target of reaching 10,000 SHG members in the current financial year. This initiative will help not only in maintaining energy supply but also significantly reduce electricity expenditure within 25 years,” Managing Director of Stree Nidhi G. Vidyasagar Reddy said.

Author: Amit Kumar
Amit Kumar is a highly experienced financial expert with over 10 years of experience in banking and finance. He shares his insights on loans, finance, and business strategies through engaging articles on this Loan & Business site, offering practical advice for anyone seeking to improve their financial situation. Amit's mission is to empower his clients and readers to make informed financial decisions and achieve their financial goals.

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