According to reports, the Tamil Nadu State Electricity Regulatory Commission, the state’s power regulator, has come up with a reworked solar power roadmap, one that puts the onus on the state utility to meet mandatory targets, after the original plan that put that burden on high-tension customers was set aside a few weeks back by an appeals body.
The immediate response to this reworked plan has been enthusiastic.
The original plan, which was to help power-starved Tamil Nadu meet an ambitious target of 3 gigawatt of solar power in three years, required big power consumers to meet a portion of their energy requirements (3% in 2013 and 6% from 2014 onward) through solar power.
This was in addition to their renewable energy purchase obligation – wherein 9% of the energy requirements of entities such as Tangedco, the state power utility, as well as of captive and open access customers had to be through renewable energy means. This involved a small bit of solar as well.
This proposal was, however, successfully challenged by the Tamil Nadu Spinning Mills Association and Tamil Nadu Electricity Consumers’ Association before the Appellate Tribunal for Electricity.
The regulator has not only put the onus of meeting the obligations on Tangedco but also has tweaked the requirement: 2% of the total energy consumption, out of a total renewable energy requirement of 11%, has to be from solar sources for 2014-15 and 2015-16.
The imposition on other open access and captive customers depends on the outcome of court cases. The regulator has called for comments from relevant stakeholders by February 24.
“The current amendment clears the legal hurdle for solar. This will also pave the way for the 1,000 megawatt solar tender, which has been pending for over an year,” said Madhavan Nampoothiri, founder and director at consultancy firm RESolve Energy Consultants.
Tamil Nadu had invited bids for building solar plants with a total capacity of 1,000 megawatt. And, though over 50 solar developers have signed the letters of intent to set up nearly 700 megawatt of capacity, the power purchase agreements haven’t yet been signed.
“This move depicts a rare but laudable step taken by a particular state government towards enforcement of RPO on its distribution licensee and we only hope other states would want to emulate this. Overall, this move is expected to benefit both the consumers and the solar industry in the long term,” said Bikesh Ogra, president of solar business at Sterling & Wilson, a part of the Shapoorji Pallonji Group.
He said he expects this will help pave the way for signing of the long-awaited power purchase agreements.