The state government’s move to purchase solar power from Adani group of companies will come under the scrutiny at the Appellate Tribunal For Electricity, New Delhi, as the tribunal dismissed applications filed by the mega power firm challenging an appeal filed by an NGO against the purchase order. In the appeal, Energy Watchdog, represented by its secretary, Anil Kumar, Karol Bagh, New Delhi, submitted that in an order dated January 4, 2015, the Tamil Nadu Electricity Regulatory Commission / Tangedco signed at least 31 Energy Purchase Agreements (EPA) for 25 years with at least 23 companies on nomination basis at Rs 7.01 per unit for a total power purchase of 1.181 MW.
These EPAs were worth Rs 34,448 crores. Energy Watchdog, NGO, submitted that these rates were much higher than the prevailing market rates for solar power. The impact of higher tariff would be borne by the electricity consumers in Tamil Nadu besides the public across the country as Tangedco had already moved the Central government for a bailout package. The Tangedco was already into massive losses and its debt crossed Rs 70,000 crore. Member of Energy Watchdog, Rama Suganthan, son of former Union minister, K. Ramamurthy, filed the appeal before the tribunal challenging the purchase order.
The Adani group of companies and others filed petitions before the tribunal praying to dismiss the appeal since petitioner was not consumer and not an aggrieved person. Rama Suganthan filed appeal on the basis of a complaint received by the NGO vide an anonymous letter dated September 11, 2015, addressed by a third person to Common Cause, the group said. In turn, the NGO replied that Tamil Nadu Electricity Regulatory Commission had ignored the Benchmark Capital Cost fixed by the Central Commission and that while extending the control period it was not justified in retaining the tariff at the same level (Rs 7.01 per unit) especially in view of Section 64 of the said Act under which public consultation is a must.
The energy watchdog further submitted that solar power tariff in the country had already been observed to be less than Rs 5 through competitive biddings in Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh. There was no reason for the TNERC to extend the control period till March 31, 2016, keeping the tariff same at `7.01 per unit.