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India Wind Power Association moves Tribunal challenging Tamil Nadu’s move to buy thermal power

According to reports, the India Wind Power Association (IWPA), a representative of wind energy producers, has launched a fresh challenge against the Tamil Nadu government’s decision to buy thermal power, instead of using available wind power, to tide over shortages.

On Thursday, the association moved the Appellate Tribunal for Electricity, the appeals body, challenging an earlier ruling against it by the Tamil Nadu Electricity Regulatory Commission.

“Tangedco (the state-run power generation and distribution company) is buying from outside costly thermal power even during the windy months of May to September by backing down wind mills eight to 22 hours daily and refusing to give the ‘must run’ status to wind mills, calling it infirm power,” K Kasthurirangaian, chairman of IWPA, told ET.

Infirm power is considered interruptible at a very short notice.

Wind energy producers feel hard-done by the absence of a ‘must run’ status, having lost an opportunity to sell their power. Already, they have been hit hard by long delayed dues that the utility owes them.

State government officials couldn’t be reached for comments.

The tussle between wind energy producers and the state comes at a time when the latter is trying to address a huge problem in the electricity sector. Tamil Nadu faces a huge shortage of power and the state-run utility is neck-deep in debt.

The grouse of wind energy players, once the state’s darlings, also manifests itself at a time when the Tamil Nadu is aggressively wooing solar developers, following a plan to add 3 gigawatt of solar power in three years.

According to data available with the Centre for Wind Energy Technology, Tamil Nadu is still the leader in wind power installed capacity. It accounts for 40% of the country’s total installed capacity of over 18 gigawatt.

The tussle started in September when Tangedco sought the nod from the state electricity regulator to buy over 2 gigawatt of thermal power for 15 years starting 2013. This was over and above the 1 gigawatt or so approved end of last year.

The state’s plan was this: buy roughly half from outside the state from the players such as Balco and GMR and the rest from private players inside like OPG and ILF&S.

IWPA protested, saying there was enough surplus wind power available. It was also joined by Tamil Nadu Spinning Mills Association in the case. Tamil Nadu Spinning Mills is also fighting a case against Tamil Nadu over the mandatory solar purchase obligation.

The electricity regulator upheld Tangedco’s stand, ruling that the IWPA position lacked merit. Tangedco, citing a Central Electricity Authority estimate, had pegged the total available capacity for 2013-14 at just under 11 gigawatt, much lower than demand (at 15.7 gigawatt). Further, it had argued, that the utility can’t plan for the future relying on infirm power such as wind.

The appellate tribunal has posted the case for hearing on Dec. 21

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