“Competitive bidding route not the only way to procure, promote solar power”

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While stating that the Tangedco’s bidding process of solar power purchase has no legal sanctity, the TNERC noted that the competitive bidding route under Section 63 of the Electricity Act, 2003 was not the only way to procure and promote solar power, as specified in the Centre’s Tariff Policy.

The Tangedco had petitioned the TNERC to approve the purchase of solar power of 708MW from 52 generators for 20 years in pursuance of the tender floated for procurement of 1,000MW for 2013-14 as per the Solar Energy Policy, 2012.

When the matter came up for hearing on March 17, Additional Advocate- general P.H. Aravind Pandian submitted that a transparent process was adopted by the Tangedco in finalising the tenders.

Five months later, the Commission said the Electricity Act, 2003 and the tariff policy issued by the Centre had clearly specified the manner in which the renewable power had to be promoted.

Reproducing clause 6.4 of the Tariff Policy, the TNERC said that as on date solar power was not in a position to compete with conventional power in terms of its full cost. In such a situation, the said policy specified a better option of procuring costly renewable power at a preferential tariff rate as determined by the Commission.

“The petitioner should have filed a tariff petition in time with the Commission for determination of such preferential tariff. This only shows that the Tangedco could have promoted solar energy in the State within the existing legal framework even in the absence of Central guidelines,” the TNERC said in its order.

The Tangedco had contended that other SERCs had approved tariff through competitive bidding under Section 63 of the Electricity Act, citing orders issued by the Punjab and Andhra Pradesh ERCs.

“It is pertinent to note that the bidding process was conducted in Punjab in the manner approved by the State Commission. Further, the petition was filed under Sections 86(1)(b) and 86(1)(e) of the Electricity Act and not under Section 63,” the TNERC pointed out.

In the case of the APERC, the legal position as cited by the Tangedco could not be appreciated in the absence of the copies of connected petition / materials filed by the petitioner.

However, every State Commission was empowered to approve or disapprove a specific proposal submitted by the licensee taking into consideration the provisions of Electricity Act 2003 and policies and regulations made thereon, the TNERC said dismissing Tangedco’s petitions.

Tangedco officials declined to comment.

Source: The Hindu

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