The Tamil Nadu Electricity Regulatory Commission has asked the Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation to technically justify why it asks solar power plants to back down from the grid. The Commission asked for this explanation from the utility following a petition from the National Solar Energy Federation of India asking it to enforce ‘must-run’ status of solar power plants. The Federation also urged the regulator to direct the respondents – Tangedco, the State Load Despatch Centre and the Tamil Nadu Transmission Corporation to stop issuing backing down instructions to solar projects. The industry body has also named the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy as a respondent.
The Federation represented that solar power ranks high on merit order despatch and enjoys must-run status under the existing regulations. It is a stable source and does not affect grid stability or discipline the reasons for which a generation plant can normally be told to back down. But it is still subject to “drastic back downs.” This threatens the viability of solar projects in which investments have been made on the strength of agreements with Tangedco to procure power.
Tangedco argued that it had only asked solar plants to back down when grid stability was affected. Recently, the Solar Power Developers Association had also written to the MNRE and Tangedco expressing concern over 50 – 100 per cent “generation curtailment” during peak generation periods. More than 30 solar power developers have invested in Tamil Nadu in grid connected projects. The feed-in tariffs range from ₹7.01 a unit for projects commissioned before March and ₹5.10 a unit for later projects.