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REC Trading

An article regarding Karnataka Electricity Regulatory Commission's guidelines which is not in sync with those of the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) was highlighted in The Hindu Business Line. The KERC guidelines are also not clear in specifying eligibility criteria. “They do specify intra/inter state open access eligibility criteria for the Renewable Energy (RE) Generator when it sells RE power to a consumer,” says Mr. Santosh Kamat, Co-founder of Auromira Energy, a company that produces electricity from renewable sources. RE producers see a mismatch between the KERC guidelines and those given by the CERC. With regard to eligibility of captive generators for RECs, while the CERC says that captive generators who avail themselves of other benefits such as preferential tariff are not eligible, the KERC guidelines say that such parties are eligible, says Mr Vishal Pandya of REConnect Energy Solutions, a company which provides services in RECs, energy efficiency and electricity portfolio management.

Further to our analysis of REC trading in April, The Hindu recently covered the same, and so did Business Standard, which mentioned that the REC price declined by 61.5% in just the second trade. We agree with their comment of REC Trading needing a 'booster'. However, we believe that booster will come in the form of more frequent compliance requirement - clearly, if the obligated entity has time till March 2012 to meet the compliance requirement, why bother spending the money now?

India witnessed first ever trade of REC in March 2011 where 424 Non-Solar RECs got traded collectively through Indian Energy Exchange (IEX) and Power Exchange India Limited (PXIL) at Market Clearing Price (MCP) of Rs. 3900/REC and Rs. 2225/REC respectively. Market got super excited seeing REC prices touching forbearance price at IEX. However, the market got little surprise as well as shock in the very next trade session that got executed in April-2011, in which buyers were hard to find at both the Power Exchanges (PXs). Based on its existing strong hold in the market, IEX managed to get 260 Non-Solar RECs from buy side whereas their counterpart – PXIL could not get a single bid from REC buyers! This came as a little surprise to us (REConnect) as well as the market. We were expecting that the market would see a strong dip in the price due to following factors:

  1. Most of the distribution companies & obligated entities might still be busy settling their financial accounts

Renewable Energy Certificate Mechanism provides few additional options to RE generators to structure their electricity sale to maximize their profit. Structuring the sale of electricity can play an important role in maximizing the benefits of a particular project. A Renewable Energy Generator can have multiple options to manage electricity sale. Each option has its own advantages and limitations. The options can be listed out as:

  1. Sale to DISCOM at Preferential Tariff: PPA with a DISCOM is a very basic option which can assure guaranteed ROI over a longer duration. This can be a benchmark to evaluate other options against.
  2. Sale to DISCOM at Average Power Purchase Cost: Sale to DISCOM at Average Power Purchase Cost can assure a guaranteed return with an additional income from GBI, but the tariff is low when compared to the preferential tariff. This drop in tariff can be compensated by additional revenue from RECs.
  3. Third Party Sale/ Open Access: Detailed analysis is required while going for Third Party Sale or Open Access as this may involve higher risks and other applicable charges as well. The charges may include Transmission Loss, Transmission Charges, and wheeling Charges. Cross Subsidy charges may also be eligible and will have a considerable effect on the price if implemented. The advantage with Third party Sale/ Open access is that the tariff may be comparatively higher and the generator is allowed to avail RECs as well.
  4. Captive/ Group Captive Consumption: Most of the states allows RE generators to consume electricity generated as a captive consumption by paying nominal wheeling and banking charges (in case of wind/small hydro). As per CERC regulation, when RE generation is used for captive consumption and promotional benefits are availed (promotional wheeling and banking), RE generator becomes ineligible to participate in REC mechanism.
A Trade off has to be made by the generator in selecting the option that can provide maximum benefits for the project. Selecting an option just to avail RECs cannot provide maximum benefits for a project, but a strategic combination of one of the above options along with RECs can maximize the revenue for a project. With REC mechanism and its complex rules in place, detailed analysis and strategic planning is required by the generator before structuring the sale of electricity for any new or upcoming project.