Creation of an RPO compliance cell, MNRE declares in its order

According to a recent order by Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) dated 22 May 2018, a creation of Renewable Purchase Obligation (RPO) Compliance cell is in process. This cell will be handling all the matters related to RPO compliance across states and publishing monthly reports on the updates.

The cell is expected to work in accordance with Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) and SERCs. The cell is also expected to coordinate on publishing a periodic report with the Government of India and take up non-compliance issues with appropriate authorities.

In the past, there have been several efforts initiated by MNRE to increase awareness among RPO obligated entities regarding RPO obligations, and explaining its advantages to them.

With the help of this cell, data management, a repository of obligated entities, preparing state-wise defaulters lists and storing authorities specific information would be convenient.

Currently, there are some gaps in the implementation of RPO in some states, and with the creation of this cell, the issues can be taken care of state-wise, bringing the country closer to achieving its national target of installing 175 GW of renewable energy till 2022.

With the cell formation, supervision of the Renewable Purchase Obligation process across the country can be performed in a seamless manner. All the stakeholder information associated with the process can be maintained in one place making implementation and invigilation easy.

This is a very positive step by MNRE, as there will be a cell responsible for looking over the RPO compliance in the country, ensuring consistent implementation of RPOs across the states while publishing timely reports.

RULING FROM COMPETITION COMMISSION MAY RESULT IN SIGNIFICANT CHANGES IN ELECTRICITY SECTOR

In a recent Judgement, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) considered the case of an electricity consumer that was repeatedly denied open access permission. In this case, the consumer approached the CCI alleging “abuse of dominant position” on part of the state utilities. The case was filed by HPCL-Mittal Pipelines Limited (‘HMPL’) against denial of open access. In this case, “upstream network constraints” were cited to disallow OA application multiple times.

 

The CCI found that prima facie denial of open access in the above case did result in violation of Sec 4(2)(c) of the Competition Act 2002. This clause refers to “abuse of dominant position by denial of market access”. The CCI has ordered a detailed investigation in the matter.

 

The CCI also made certain other interesting observations in the case:

 

  1. In the above case, it identified “conflict of interests situation” between the various constituents of the electricity utilities like the Discom, TransCo, SLDC, etc due to “structural linkages”, i.e. common holding structure. The order states the following:

It appears that OP-2 has leveraged its dominant position in the relevant market to adversely affect the competition in the downstream market, where it is present through its group entity OP-3. The structural linkages between the OPs as depicted in the diagram illustrated earlier also points toward the conflict of interest that exists in the present case. Thus, given the conflict of interest situation that exists in the present case, anti-competitive motive behind such denial by OP-2 cannot be ruled out and may need to be tested in detailed investigation.

 

  1. The case dwells in depth on the jurisdiction of the CCI to rule on such cases given that the EA2003 is also a special statute that deals with all matters of electricity. The CCI finds that there are enough grounds and supporting case laws to justify its jurisdiction as far as competition related matters are concerned across all sectors.

 

This judgement is certainly a very interesting development for the electricity sector, as denial of open access permissions is a problem across most states. The inherent conflict of interest is evident, as often the Discom itself has to approve OA applications, in what will effectively result in taking away of its own best paying consumers.

The regulatory regime of the sector itself, especially the State Regulatory Commissions (SERCs) have so far taken a view that has supported the Discom’s, at the cost of the overall market and sector. Examples include setting of Cross-subsidy surcharges without regards to the formula and limits defined in the National Tariff Policies, upholding denial of open access in many cases, etc.

 

It is hoped that an outsider, for example CCI, which does not bring with it the baggage of the SERCs, or the “conflict of interest” that results from the government appointing the electricity regulator and owning the entire value chain, will catalyse real change in the electricity sector.

ApTel directs SERCs to comply with RPO regulations

The Appelate Tribunal (ApTel) gave its judgment in a petition filed by various association asking the Aptel to give directions to the State Electricity Regulatory Commissions (SERCs) to comply with RPO regulations.

The order is likely to make the routine carry forward and waiver of RPO that has been observed in the last few years much more difficult.

The ApTel has observed that several SERCs are not complying with the RPO regulations. The order states:

“While we accept that a number of State Commissions have been monitoring the compliance of the RPO Regulations by the obligated entities as per their Regulations, in some States it is not being done regularly. We find that some State Commissions do not have compliance status even for FY 2012-13. Some State Commissions have not responded to the notice and have not filed any response. It is also borne out by submissions made by Ministry of New and Renewable Energy and the Central Commission that many obligated entities have not been fulfilling their RPOs and are also not resorting to purchase of REC which has been provided for in the Regulations as a valid instrument for fulfilling the RPO. Some of the State Commissions have been allowing carry forward of the RPO even though RECs are available, in violation of their own Regulations.”

 In the order, the ApTel gave several directions to the SERCs:

  • Directions have been given regarding the setting up of RPO and regular review of the same
  • Carry forward and review shall be done as per the RPO regulations. The order further states:

“If the Regulations recognise REC mechanism as a valid instrument to fulfill the RPO, the carry forward/review should be allowed strictly as per the provisions of the Regulations keeping in view of availability of REC”

and

“In case of default in fulfilling of RPO by obligated entity, the penal provision as provided for in the Regulations should be exercised”

  • Power to relax and remove difficult should be used judiciously. The order states:

“The provisions in Regulations like power to relax and power to remove difficulty should be exercised judiciously under the exceptional circumstances, as per law and should not be used routinely to defeat the object and purpose of the Regulations”

The ApTel order can be read here.

MPERC imposes penalty for non compliance of RPO

In an order dated 20th October 2014, Madhya Pradesh Electricity Regulatory Commission (MPERC) has imposed a token penalty of Rs. 25,000 for non compliance of RPO.  The order is the outcome of the petition filed by M/S Green Energy Association in the matter of non compliance of solar RPO by the obligated entities for the period of FY 2011-12 to FY 2013-14. The respondent Madhya Pradesh Power Management Co Ltd (MPPMCL) plea was that they could not fulfill the RPO in the past years through purchase of RECs due to poor financial condition of Discoms. On hearing both the parties the commission  found the plea of MPPMCL to be illogical at this stage as RECs are available in the market and the retail tariff order for FY 2014-15 includes the amount to procure energy from renewable sources to meet RPO.  Therefore, now non compliance of RPO cannot be neglected and go unpunished.

The order states that

“ The Commission, therefore, imposes a token penalty of Rs. 25,000.00 on the respondent towards non-compliance of the solar RPO target as per the provisions of MPERC (Co-generation and Generation of Electricity from Renewable Sources of Energy) Regulations, 2010, which is to be deposited with the Commission within 30 days of the issue of this order. It may be emphasized that the penalty is a token and does not redeem the failure of the respondent in the matter. The Commission would like to warn the respondent that future non-compliance in this regard would be dealt with severely. “

This order will be appreciated by the RE generators who have a large inventory of RECs lying with them. Similar orders from SERC of Uttarakhand and Union Territories were made in the past. This is a welcome step and we expect other SERCs to come up with similar orders and take strict action against non compliance of RPO.

The order can be accessed here.

REConnect Newsletter Volume 42 – OPEN ACCESS

Dear Reader,

We are pleased to present Open Access Vol 42 – our monthly newsletter covering RECs and regulatory and market developments in the renewable energy space.

 Key points covered in this newsletter are:

 1) Analysis of Karnataka’s solar policy

 2) Regulatory updates including important changes in RPO regualtions in Rajasthan, Order of JERC for enforecemnt of RPO including    imposition of penalty, and other regulatory updates

 3) Analysis of the most recent trading session of RECs and capacities in the REC mechanism

 Past newsletters can be accessd here – http://www.reconnectenergy.com/newsletter/past-newsletters/

For latest news and updates, please visit our blog at – http://reconnectenergy.com/blog/

 As always, we will love to hear your feedback on the newsletter.

– Team REConnect

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