The Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC), in a recent order, asked the subsidiaries of ACME Solar developing 600 MW of solar projects in Rajasthan to submit the current status of the Fatehgarh land case and a copy of the Rajasthan High Court’s earlier order on the matter.
It also asked the petitioners to submit the present status of the Fatehgarh substation and the associated interstate transmission system and the commissioning dates of the substation and the transmission system.
The central regulator directed the subsidiaries of ACME to make the submissions by June 20, 2021, and asked the Power Grid Corporation of India Limited (PGCIL) to file its reply by June 30, 2021. The solar developers have to file the rejoinder by July 12.
ACME Deoghar, ACME Phalodi, ACME Dhaulpur, and ACME Raisar had filed petitions, appealing for PGCIL to extend the starting date of the long-term access (LTA) in line with the extension of the commissioning dates of the projects granted by the Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI).
All the four subsidiaries of ACME Solar are special purpose vehicles incorporated by ACME Solar Holdings to develop and commission 2X300 MW solar projects in Pokharan, Rajasthan.
ACME had unilaterally terminated the power purchase agreement on May 4, 2020, citing ‘force majeure’ events, which started with a high court stay order on the land where the substation was to be constructed. Subsequently, the Covid-19 crisis hit, and it impacted the manufacturing facilities of suppliers. Added to this was the delay in the commissioning of the associated transmission network by other transmission service providers.
Later, SECI had extended the scheduled commissioning dates of the projects by 481 days up to March 03, 2022, and February 17, 2022, on account of ‘force majeure’ events. The earlier dates for commissioning the projects were November 8, 2020, and October 25, 2020.
PGCIL refused to accept the extension granted by SECI and extended the LTA by only five months from October 26, 2020, to March 26, 2021, and from October 19, 2020, to March 19, 2021, for the two projects.
PGCIL had extended the LTA by five months as per the Ministry of Power’s notification. In the same letter, the Ministry had requested MNRE to grant an extension of five months, which was accepted by MNRE, and the extension was granted.
On further requests made by the stakeholders, MNRE allowed the implementing agencies to grant a further extension beyond five months on a case-to-case basis. PGCIL refused to extend the LTA commencement date in line with the revised commissioning dates.
ACME Solar, in its submission, said that it was not liable to pay transmission charges given the extension of commissioning dates by SECI on account of ‘force majeure’ events. The developer demanded that PGCIL be restrained from taking any coercive action against it.
ACME also clarified that it was withdrawing the petitions filed earlier to terminate the power purchase agreement and transmission arrangements.
Recently, CERC, while responding to ReNew Power’s petition, directed PGCIL not to encash bank guarantees submitted towards its wind projects until further orders. Renew Power Wind Energy, a subsidiary of ReNew Power, had informed that the transmission agreement executed with PGCIL was difficult to abide by due to ‘force majeure’ events.
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Rakesh is a staff reporter at Mercom India. Prior to joining Mercom, he worked in many roles as a business correspondent, assistant editor, senior content writer, and sub-editor with bcfocus.com, CIOReview/Silicon India, Verbinden Communication, and Bangalore Bias. Rakesh holds a Bachelor’s degree in English from Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU). More articles from Rakesh Ranjan.