In a recent suo-motu hearing on the renewable energy tariff, called by the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC), the Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (MSEDCL) has opposed the concessions and benefits given to private wind energy firms. The objection was raised by MSEDCL's executive director (commercial) Abhijit Deshpande after MERC invited objections and suggestions.
Highly placed MSEDCL sources said as per the Renewable Portfolio Standard under Electricity Act 2003, every year the MSEDCL has a binding to purchase a certain amount of renewable energy and this percentage of purchase has to be increased by one per cent each year.
Last year, the MSEDCL out of its total power of around 95, 000 million units (MUs) distributed across the state, 6,779 MUs (6.75 per cent of the total distribution) as per the policy binding was purchased by the MSEDCL from the renewable energy sources.
The power utility shelled out Rs 1,050 crore for this purchase of 6779 MUs, which comprised 3,600 MUs of renewable wind energy, 1,300 MUs of co-generation, Biomass and bagasse energy and 1,500 MUs from small hydro-electric projects in addition to compulsory purchase of 0.2 per cent solar energy, added
Deshpande in his presentation to regulator has stated that all the states in the country have a uniform tariff rate across the state except in Maharashtra, which has four different tariff rates.
All the upcoming wind power projects belong to the Rs 5.80 tariff rate category, which is 2.5 rupee more than the average rate of power, which is around Rs 3.30 per unit.
He also stated that the tariff rate for purchase of wind energy is Maharashtra is higher than any other state in the country.
The MSEDCL representative in the MERC hearing contended that the power available from other renewable sources like bagasse, biomass and small-hydro electric projects can be scheduled whereas power from the wind sources is very much indefinite that leads to an ultimate loss to the distribution companies.
A senior MSEDCL official, who preferred anonymity, said, "Almost 70 % of the total power available from the wind power is during the rainy season between June to September and during the same period MSEDCL faces a decrease in demand by 2,500 MW to 3,000 MW and due to this fall in demand, often many regular generators have to backdown."
During this season, the power from Power Exchange and Central System is available at the rate of Re 1 to Rs 1.5 per unit but the MSEDCL is obliged to purchase the power at Rs 5.80 per unit, which the MSEDCL recovers from the consumer's pocket, added the official.
During the hearing MSEDCL demanded that the agreement period between the companies (wind generator and distributions) should be extended to the life of the boiler, which 25 years.
MSEDCL has demanded the extension of the agreement from 13 years to 25 years, because private wind energy generators are free to supply energy to high tension consumers in the open market, taking a direct toll on the revenue of the MSEDCL, sources said.