According to reports, the Appellate Tribunal for Electricity (APTEL) has directed the State electricity regulatory commission to necessarily circulate consultative papers before bringing in any new regulation or changes in the existing ones.
In a recent order, APTEL’s Chairperson Justice M. Karpaga Vinayagam and Technical Member Rakesh Nath, have said that in order to facilitate effective participation of stakeholders and to obtain relevant comments from them “we direct that all the Commissions shall ensure the circulation of the Consultative Paper clearing indicating the proposal by putting it up in the public domain for seeking suggestions and objections.”
The issue of the importance of circulating Consultative Papers came up in a case filed by the Chennai-based Beta Wind Farm Pvt Ltd, against a tariff order of the Tamil Nadu Electricity Regulatory Commission. (TNERC). Since, similar appeals were filed by several other organisations, such as the Tamil Nadu Spinning Mills Association, Indian Wind Power Association and India Spinning Mills Owners’ Association, APTEL issued a common order last week.
One of the issues that were raised for consideration by the tribunal was whether the tariff order (of July 31, 2012, which brought in new tariffs for wind power producers) was bad in law, because the commission had not circulated a Consultative Paper before bringing in the order.
The tribunal has held that TNERC not circulating a Consultative Paper was alright because the issue was only a revision of a previous tariff order. However, one of the aspects of the order involved a major change in ‘wheeling and banking charges’.
Not only the charges were high, but the Commission “totally changed the historical practise of collecting the charges from kind to cash”. The tribunal has also observed that on previous occasions the TNERC had circulated consultative papers. “Then, why this time the said procedure has not been followed? There is no valid explanation,” it said.
In this context, APTEL has directed all the state electricity regulatory commissions to necessarily circulate consultative papers before bringing in changes in regulations.