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‘Multiple legal challenges hurting Tamil Nadu’s solar plan’

According to reports, multiple legal challenges are hurting Tamil Nadu’s ambitious plan of adding 3,000 megawatt of solar power by 2015, two state officials have said.
Tamil Nadu, facing one of its worst-ever power crises, is betting big on solar. Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa’s administration has drawn up an ambitious plan to add 3,000 megawatt through this route by 2015, 1,000 megawatt every year starting 2013.

Toward this, the state had floated a 1,000 megawatt tender, India’s single biggest tender, late last year. But the going has not been smooth. “The 1,000 megawatt tender is delayed because it is hit by legal cases. We are confident of getting it cleared,” said Sudeep Jain, chairman and MD of the Tamil Nadu Energy Development Agency, the nodal agency for solar projects, addressing a Confederation of Indian Industry conference.

Starting 2013, Tamil Nadu’s solar policy mandates, many classes of commercial buildings and factories need to meet at least 3% of their power requirements through solar. This has proved to be a controversial clause for industry.

“Some customers have gone to court against the solar purchase obligation,” said S Nagalsamy, member of Tamil Nadu Electricity Regulatory Commission, the only member on board at the State regulator.

He said there have been doubts about whether the twin targets – of 3,000 megawatt of solar power in three years as also the solar purchase obligation in two years – are achievable. “Unfortunately it could not take off, but government has earnestly taken steps,” he said.

He also said cases have also been filed against the alleged discrimination between different classes of consumers. While the solar purchase obligation is a requirement for high-tension and low-tension commercial consumers, other classes such as domestic consumers are exempt.

According to a report by Mercom Capital Group, under the state tender, 52 developers have signed letters of intent (power purchase agreements are yet to be signed) for setting up solar plants with 700 megawatt of capacity. Developers have 10 months to commission these projects from the date of signing the agreements.

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