The Appellate Tribunal for Electricity (ATE) has rejected the plea of Reliance Infrastructure to impose stay against the order of Odisha Electricity Regulatory Commission (OERC) to revoke power distribution licences of its companies.
Instead, it has directed OERC and the Odisha government to submit their replies by March 17. The hearing on the case will be conducted on March 24, said a source. Reliance Infra had moved ATE last week against the decision of the state regulator to revoke its licences citing under performance.
According to the March 4 order of OERC, licences of North Eastern Electricity Supply Company of Odisha Ltd (Nesco), Western Electricity Supply Company of Odisha Ltd (Wesco) and Southern Electricity Supply Company of Odisha Ltd (Southco) were revoked under section 19 (revocation of licence based in public interest) of the Electricity Act with immediate effect. The Central Services Office (CSO), umbrella organisation of Reliance Infra for power distribution operation in the state, was also disbanded.
As an interim arrangement, the regulator directed state-run power trader Gridco to take over the operation of these companies and appointed CMD of Gridco as the administrator of the three utilities to avoid disruption in power supply operation in the state. It said, the immediate task of the administrator would be to carry out energy audit of the three Reliance Infra owned discoms along with other responsibilities such as reduction of distribution losses.
Reliance Infra had taken over the charges of the three discoms over 15 years ago, when the state government initiated steps to privatise the power distribution sector with the help of World Bank programme. In 2005 too, the licence of the discoms were revoked, but they had managed to get a counter order from the Supreme Court. However, when situations did not improve, OERC had sou moto initiated a case in 2013 to revoke the licence of the discoms. After the licence revocation, Reliance Infra will still retain majority share in the discoms, where Gridco has minority share of 49 per cent in each of the companies. Odisha has a total of four discoms and three are held by Reliance Infra. The biggest discom Central Electricity Supply Utility (CESU) is managed by OERC after its owner, the US based energy major AES, abandoned the operations.