The process of signing power purchase agreement (PPA) with qualifying solar power companies is all set to get delayed in Jharkhand despite the Government approving Rs 4.95 per kwH as tariff.
Top officials in the Energy Department are of the view that since the decision and other related matters have reached the door of Jharkhand State Energy Regulatory Commission (JSERC), it would take considerable amount of time before a final call is taken.
“No decision has yet been taken after the Cabinet gave its nod to the tariff.
The matter is lying with the JSERC and after its approval only any PPA may be signed with the companies,” said Energy Secretary Nitin Madan Kulkarni. JBVNL Managing Director Rahul Purwar also confirmed this saying so proposal of signing PPA with companies has come to the discom.
Sources in Jharkhand Renewable Energy Development Authority (JREDA) said that Rs 4.95 per unit rate arrived for the solar power plant above 25 MW capacity was being considered too high for the State. “There are different opinions about the rate, particularly when in some parts of the country it has come down to as low as Rs 2.5 and even less. This has been challenged and now the JSERC is to decide,” said a senior official.
It is also learnt that the JREDA has cut down its estimate to produce solar energy on large scale originally from over 1,200 MW to 680 MW since many developers have backtracked from their intents. Companies like Sun Edison promising 150 MW and Acme Solar with 50 MW are now out of the race while other majors reducing the plant size.
“We have revised solar generating plan looking at the scenario developed in the light of rate fixation. There are few more requests pending with us which may further lower the renewable power plan. But most of these things lie on the final tariff decided by the JSERC,” said one.
Rajya Sabha MP Mahesh Poddar who had expressed his views openly against ‘such a high tariff’ said that the matter pending before the Commission should have been decided earlier. “In fact the Government should have gone to the JSERC before approving the tariff. Since it had no consent of the Commission some parties have challenged it now. This is set to delay the process of harnessing clean power in the State,” said the MP.
Nonetheless, Minister Saryu Roy, who had headed a Government panel deciding the rate and PPA, defended the Cabinet decision. “The rate cannot be universal. You cannot fix the rate based on which has been done for example in Rajasthan.
Level of solar radiation, rate of lending, local conditions, availability of land vary from State to State.
You also need to honour your words (made to the companies),” said the Minister stressing on the agreements to be signed sooner than later.