MAJOR REFORMS EXPECTED IN THE ENERGY SECTOR, SAYS POWER MINISTER

In an article in  Financial Express, the power minister, Mr RK Singh, declared that huge reforms are to be expected in the power sector in the near future. Few of such reforms mentioned were PPAs for all the electricity requirement being made mandatory in all Indian states, cross subsidy in tariff being limited, compensation of low agriculture tariff  by increasing the industrial and commercial tariff and introduction of Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT). Also, introduction of a penalty provision  to those not meeting their RPO targets. This is in line with the Draft National Electricity Policy released by Niti Ayog in June 2017. The Union Minister also added that carriage and content shall be separated by his ministry which shall give the end user the flexibility to where they want to procure electricity from.

SOLAR TARIFF HITS ANOTHER NEW LOW

Solar tariff has hit another low in the auction held for the solar park in Rajasthan’s  Bhadla. The top slot was won by ACME, a domestic company for Rs 2.44 a unit for 200 MW. SoftBank Energy closely followed at Rs 2.45 for 500 MW. As per the analysis given in an article by Business Standard. there has been an 80% fall in solar tariff since the past 6 years.

 

As per a Livemint article, this drastic reduction in solar prices has caused a decrease in the number of clean energy deals as there is a fear that the DISCOMS will not honor the Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) signed earlier at a higher rate since this has happened in the past.

A link to our previous analysis can be found here and here.

SOLAR TARIFF PRICES HIT A NEW LOW:

The solar tariff prices have hit a new low of Rs 3.15 per unit in an auction on Wednesday . The previous low in tariff was Rs 3.30 per unit in an auction which took place in the month of February.

 Source: Livemint (Dated: 13 Apr 2017)
In an article by Livemint, Mercom Capital Group has the following observations: This decrease in tariffs is causing the states to rethink and they are demanding a new power purchase agreement (PPA). This is causing the process of tendering and auctioning to slow down. An example of a state where such a thing has happened is Jharkhand. It is yet to sign its PPA for the 1000 MW solar capacity it had auctioned last year. The reason behind this is the subdued demand and poor financial condition of the discoms. The discoms which had signed their PPAs at a higher tariff are now going to find them unpalatable as they would lean towards cheaper tariff. Therefore, projects locked at higher tariffs will face delays in payments or power offtake curtailments. This might not only affect renewable energy power but also have an impact on renewable energy contracts.

Policy for Repowering of the Wind Power Projects

The Ministry of New & Renewable Energy in consultation with various stakeholders including the Industry and States had come up with the Draft Policy for Repowering of the Wind Power Projects in the month of March this year. After 4 months the Policy has been finalised with an objective to promote optimum utilization of wind energy resources by creating facilitative framework for repowering. Some of the key pints of the policy are mentioned below:

  • All the wind turbine generators with the capacity of 1MW or below would be eligible for repowering.
  • The Policy offers incentives in form of an additional interest rate rebate of 0.25% over existing rebate available to the new wind projects by IREDA.
  • Secondly through benefits like Accelerated Depreciation or GBI that would be made available to the repowering project.
  • The power generated corresponding to average of last three years’ generation prior to repowering would continue to be procured on the terms of existing PPA.
  • Augmentation of transmission system from pooling station onwards to be carried out by the respective STU.
  • During the period of execution of repowering, wind turbines would be exempted from not honoring the PPA for the non-availability
  •  Similarly, in case of repowering by captive user they will to be allowed to purchase power from grid during the period of execution of repowering.

The Policy can be accessed here.

 

 

 

KERC Determines tariffs and other norms for Solar Rooftop and Small Photovoltaic Power Plants

This Order is applicable to all new grid connected solar rooftop and small solar photo voltaic power plants, entering into Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) and commissioned on or after 2nd May, 2016 and up to 31st March, 2018.

Sharing of Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) benefits between the generating company and the beneficiaries

  • 100% of gross proceeds on account of CDM benefit are to be retained by the project developer in the first year, after the date of commercial operation of the generating station,
  • In the second year, the share of distribution licensees shall be 10%, which shall be progressively increased by 10% every year till it reaches 50% and thereafter, the proceeds shall be shared in equal proportion by the generating companies and the beneficiaries.

Grid Connectivity for roof-top projects

  • 1 kW to 5 kW – single phase 230 volts
  • 5 kW to 50 kW – 3 phase 415 Volts
  • 50 kW to 1 MW – 11 kV line.

Metering

  • Metering shall be in compliance with the CEA (Installation and Operation of Meters) Regulations 2006 as amended from time to time.
  • In the case of, solar rooftop PV systems connected to LT grid of a distribution company, the concept of net metering shall be adopted and the net energy pumped into the grid shall be billed.
  • In the net -metering, the consumer is paid for the net energy i.e., the difference between energy generated from solar rooftop plant and consumed by his/her installation.
  • This concept allows only surplus energy to be injected into the grid. The Commission had proposed to continue with net-metering concept for all consumers, other than domestic consumers.
  • In the case of domestic consumers, the Commission had proposed to adopt gross metering concept where the entire energy generated by the solar rooftop plant is allowed to be injected into the grid

Note – An amendment to CEA (Installation and Operation of Meters) Regulations 2006 has been issued recently, in which a new definition of “renewable energy meter” has been introduced to extend clarity to net-metering scheme.

  • If export>import, ESCOM pays generator at the tariff determined.
  • If import > export; then generators pays to DISCOM at prevailing retail tariff.

 

Applicability of Wheeling and Banking Charges and Cross Subsidy Surcharge:

For solar generators going with intra-state open-access, no wheeling/banking charges or cross- subsidy charges are to be paid.

The copy of the order can be accessed here.

Draft Policy for Repowering of the Wind Power Projects

The Ministry of New & Renewable Energy in consultation with various stakeholders including the Industry and States recently came up with the Draft Policy for Repowering of the Wind Power Projects with an objective to promote optimum utilization of wind energy resources. Some of the key pints of the policy are mentioned below:

  • All the wind turbine generators with the capacity of 1MW or below would be eligible for repowering.
  • The Policy offers incentives in form of an additional interest rate rebate of 0.25% over existing rebate available to the new wind projects by IREDA.
  • Secondly through benefits like Accelerated Depreciation or GBI that would be made available to the repowering project.
  • The power generated corresponding to average of last three years’ generation prior to repowering would continue to be procured on the terms of existing PPA.
  • Augmentation of transmission system from pooling station onwards to be carried out by the respective STU.
  • During the period of execution of repowering, wind turbines would be exempted from not honoring the PPA for the non-availability
  •  Similarly, in case of repowering by captive user they will to be allowed to purchase power from grid during the period of execution of repowering.

 

The Policy can be accessed here.

 

Wind & Solar Forecasting & Scheduling Regulations 2015

To overcome the difficulties related with managing the infirm wind and solar power, the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission introduced the provisions for wind/solar power forecasting under the Indian Electricity Grid Code in May 2010. The mechanism was promoted as the Renewable Regulatory Fund (RRF) mechanism. The mechanism was originally intended to be implemented by January 2011, which got four extensions (Jan’12, Jul’12, Feb’13, July’13) before it could get even started.

The mechanism finally got implemented from 15th July, 2013 and subsequently got caught under the litigations as the Wind Associations challenged the decision of CERC to implement such regulations for wind power plants connected under the intra-state networks. Finally, the commercial settlement related with the mechanism finally went to temporary suspension mode in Feb’14.

The mechanism also attracted lot of resistance from various stakeholders due to the reasons represented in the block diagram below.

CERC Forecasting and Scheduling Regulations 2015

The CERC, on 05th April 2015 proposed new framework for the Forecasting, Scheduling and imbalance handling of Wind and Solar Energy generating projects at inter-state level, and finalized the same through notification on 7th August, 2015, to make major amendments to the Deviation Settlement Regulations (DSM) Regulation 2014 and the IEGC Regulation 2010. The highlights of the same are given below:

Error calculation methodology:

The error calculation methodology used earlier and the proposed one are compared below:

The penalty mechanism as per the new regulation is as follows:

  • For single PPA agreements, the fixed rate shall be the PPA rate between the generator and buyer, and in case of multiple PPA’s, the weighted average shall be taken.
  • For Open Access transactions for RE, where consumer is not claiming RPO, or in case of captive power, the fixed rate shall be the APPC rate at the national level.

The existing wind capacity of 23.7 GW[1], most of which comes under the control area of the state, whereas in case of solar, approximately 200 MW odd capacity out of 4 GW[2] comes under the control area of RLDCs. With the central government thrust on large additions year-on-year, in future, large inter-state projects will come under purview of the new inter-state forecasting regulation. However, the regulation for accommodating the capacity connected with the state control area can be expected to be announced soon as the CERC in its closing remarks of the final regulation has expressed the desire for the same.

We are expecting the Intra-state regulation to come soon, along with the implication of the commercial settlement. With the implementation of the Inter-state regulation becoming applicable from 1st November 2015, and possibly, the soon to come Intra-state regulation, it is a huge task at hand for all stakeholders, especially for those generators for whom forecasting and scheduling will be something new to oblige to, when the new regulations are implemented. It also calls for more efficient approach in terms of huge data management schema, automation of operations, forecasting techniques and error handling & response.

As an experienced Co-ordinating agency we have geared up to the new regulations in all way possible, and would like to deliver our value oriented in-house services as per expectations of stakeholders, and even beyond.

The IEGC Amendment can be accessed here.

The DSM Regulation can be read here.

The Statement of Reasons from CERC can be understood here.


[1] As per MNRE data on 30.06.2015

[2] As per MNRE data on 30.06.2015

KERC Determines tariff for Grid Interactive Megawatt scale Solar Power Plants

The Commission, in its Order dated 1st January, 2015 on BESCOM’s Review Petition noted that there was substantial reduction in the capital cost of grid connected solar power plants.

Therefore, it examined the need to curtail the present control period and re-determine the tariff in separate proceedings, in the midcourse. The Commission, in modification of its Order dated 10th October, 2013, decided that the norms and tariff determined in this Order shall be applicable to all new grid connected MW scale solar PV and solar thermal power plants, entering into Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) on or after 1st September, 2015 to 31st March, 2018.

For determining the tariff of the same, comments/suggestion of the stakeholders on the capital cost, operational and financial parameters were invited. The table below depicts the proposed capital costs for solar PV projects and solar thermal projects before and after the midcourse re-determination of tariff.

Based on the comments and suggestions received from various stakeholders on the abstract of the parameters considered for determination of the tariff, the commission approved the following tariff on 30th July 2015 which differs from the earlier determined tariff.

The final commission order can be read here.

Maharashtra (MSEDCL) Wind Energy Policy, 2014

Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Co. Ltd. (MSEDCL) has come up with its wind energy policy in consultation with the MEDA (Maharashtra Energy Development Agency) in order to promote the wind energy generation in the state. The policy was notified on 3rd June, 2014, and will be applicable on projects commissioned in FY 2014-15 and onwards.

This can be taken as a positive step by MSEDCL towards RPO compliance. Under the PPA, the entire power produced will be sold to MSEDCL.

In our opinion, since power is to be sold at tariff determined under PPA with MSEDCL, therefore the projects cannot avail REC’s.

MSEDCL has also set up time limits for connectivity permission as given below:


Processing Fee –
The wind power developer has to submit a non-refundable processing fee of Rs. 1.00 Lac per MW of grid connectivity.Extension of 6 months shall be granted on valid grounds as per directives of MSEDCL. If the generator fails to commission the project within extended period, they will have to re-apply for grid connectivity.

Security Deposit – The wind project developer has to submit a Performance Bank Guarantee of Rs. 5.00 Lacs per MW for sanction of gird connectivity, towards security deposit.

Wind Power Scheduling – It is mandatory for the generator to forecast and schedule the power produced, as per CERC guidelines.

More details on the order can be read here.

Gujarat DISCOMs approach CERC to seek REC benefits

Gujarat Urja Vikas Nigam Limited (GUVNL) on behalf of DISCOMs , had approached Hon’ble CERC for certain amendments to REC regulations, enabling the former to claim solar RECs as “Eligible Entity” for excess procurement over & above the stipulated RPO targets. GUVNL had submitted (in Petition no. 128/MP/2013) that dis-allowance of RECs for excess solar power procurement after meeting RPO targets, is a disincentive  for DISCOMs who have been buying solar power at promotional tariffs with an aim to promote solar power generation in the state.

The matter is unprecedented because an obligated entity (usually a buyer of RECs) wants to claim RECs for excess power procurement and not excess power generation.

In the order dated 2nd Dec 2013 (refer), GUVNL brought forward that DISCOMs had to tie up solar capacity of 380 MW to comply with RPO targets (of 1% in FY13). DISCOMs in-fact have signed PPAs of 971.5 MW solar capacity, that too at promotional tariffs.

GUVNL has also argued that buying costly solar power from developers is going to financially impact the consumers in the state as the higher cost of power procurement is passed on to them. To abrogate such a case, it proposes to claim RECs which will reward DISCOMs as well as take care of consumer interests.  GUVNL also requested for a provision where RPO surplus DISCOMs are allowed to exchange RECs with RPO deficit ones by bypassing prevailing exchange based transactions. In our view, this particular demand questions the very purpose of having a double side closed fair market-based mechanism for RECs.

GUVNL had also prayed the apex commission puts in place a uniform solar RPO target for all states in India.

CERC, in the order, is of the view that current regulations stipulating generators only for claiming RECs is adequate for a healthy REC market. Hon’ble commissions decision can be read as -

“The Commission is of the view that the existing provisions of eligibility in the  REC Regulations which is limited to generating companies is adequate at this stage of development of REC market. Without going into the merit of the issues raised, we intend to clarify that filing of the petition is not the proper process for initiating the amendment to the existing regulations. The Commission under Section 178 of the Act has been vested with the power to make, amend and repeal the regulations on the subjects which have been authorized under various provisions of the Act. Action to make or amend the regulations is initiated when the Commission is satisfied that there is need for such regulations or amendment to the existing regulations.”

However, the commission directed its staff to analyse the issue and come up with an appropriate proposal for consideration.

According to Press Information Bureau (Release ID :103402) the matter was brought to light by Hon’ble Minister of New & Renewable Energy in the Lok Sabha (on 7th Feb 2014). In a written reply Hon’ble Minister quoted that obligated entities were free to procure power over and above RPO targets and that any changes to existing regulations is a quasi-judicial process and the CERC takes a view after following due process of law including public hearing. 

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