Andhra Regulator Rules in Favor of a Solar Power Generator Regarding Wheeling Charges

The Andhra Pradesh Electricity Regulatory Commission (APERC), in a recent order, ruled in favor of a solar power generator, stating the Southern Power Distribution Company of Andhra Pradesh Limited (APSPDCL) was not entitled to recover wheeling charges and losses regarding the connectivity of a 20 MW solar project with 132/33 kV Sambepalli substation of Transmission Corporation of Andhra Pradesh (APTRANSCO).

The Commission said that the petitioner had erected the dedicated transmission line and connected it to the 132/33 kV Sambepalli substation of APTRANSCO without any pooling station connected to the grid substation.

The Commission further noted that wheeling charges were liable to be paid if the open access users used the transmission or distribution system and associated facilities. The regulator added that APTRANSCO was entitled to collect other charges permissible in law.

Aditya Birla Renewables had filed a petition seeking a declaration that APSPDCL was not entitled to recover wheeling charges and losses from the petitioner regarding the connectivity of the petitioner’s project with 132/33 kV Sambepalli substation of APTRANSCO through the 33 kV dedicated transmission line.


Background

Aditya Birla is developing the 20 MW captive solar power project in the Kadapa district of Andhra Pradesh, and the generator plans to avail open access to supply power from its 20 MW solar project to the two cement projects of the Ultratech Cement Limited located in Andhra Pradesh.

Aditya Birla Renewables had initially requested APTRANSCO to accord connectivity approval and grant long-term access to a 20 MW solar project at Kadapa district for evacuating power at 33 kV voltage level at 132/33 kV Rayachoti grid substation. Later, the petitioner applied to APTRANSCO to grant connectivity at the alternate grid substation, i.e., Sambepalli, in light of the mutual discussions regarding 132/33 kV Rayachoti grid substation having been already connected to a 30 MW project.

The solar generator argued that as per Clause 14 of APERC Regulation on power evacuation from captive generation and co-generation and renewable energy-based power projects, the ownership of 11 kV or 33 kV network and the pooling substation should remain with the power producer.

The petitioner further pleaded that while developing the 33 kV DTL connecting the project to the 132/33 kV Sambepalli substation, it was not required to pay supervision, engineering, and other charges to APTRANSCO.

Commission’s analysis

The Commission observed that APTRANSCO was not entitled to levy supervision charges on their internal works within the solar or wind farm site and up to the pooling substation. It was the obligation of the developer to execute the power evacuation work.

The regulator noted that it was abundantly clear from Clause 14 that the ownership of the entire network up to and including the pooling substation would be with the power producers who were also responsible for maintaining it.

Further, the Commission added that there was no doubt that the petitioner erected the dedicated transmission line in question at its own cost.

The Commission said that wheeling charges were liable to be paid only if the open access users used the transmission or distribution system and associated facilities. Claiming wheeling charges and line losses without lending its system by APSPDCL is confiscation, which was not permissible in law.

The case on hand is different where the petitioner established its captive plant and laid its own dedicated transmission line for evacuation of its power without using any part of APSPDCL’s network.

The Commission stated that it emerged from the stand of APSPDCL that it was claiming ownership of a dedicated transmission line on a misreading of Clause 14 and a misconception of facts. As the petitioner is the owner of the dedicated transmission line and no part of the distribution network of APSPDCL was involved in evacuating power from its generating station to 132/33 kV Sambepalli substation belonging to APTRANSCO.  Therefore, only APTRANSCO was entitled to collect wheeling and other charges permissible under law.

In March this year, the Andhra Pradesh Energy Department clarified that the amendments made to policies on the wind, solar, and wind-solar hybrid projects would apply to projects commissioned after November 18, 2019. The Andhra Government had formulated renewable energy policies to promote widespread renewable energy by providing incentives to meet the twin objectives of energy security and clean energy.

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