Approval Process for Transmission Projects Revised to Expedite Renewable Integration

The Ministry of Power has revised the terms of reference of the National Committee on Transmission (NCT) to fast track the planning and approval of interstate transmission systems (ISTS) projects to facilitate greater renewable energy integration.

This is part of the reforms being carried out in the power sector. The Ministry believes that this would go a long way in facilitating the integration of renewable energy in the power sector.

To expedite the approval of ISTS projects, proposals up to ₹1 billion (~$13.34 million) will be approved by the central transmission utility (CTU). Proposals over ₹1 billion (~$13.34 million) and up to ₹5 billion (~$66.67 million) will be approved by the NCT, and the Ministry of Power will approve the proposals above ₹5 billion (~$66.67 million).

To meet 40% of its electricity needs from non-fossil fuel-based sources by 2030, India had set a target of 450 GW of renewable capacity by 2030. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has now revised this target to meet 50% of its electricity requirements from renewable energy by 2030.

The Ministry noted a need to fast-track the transmission planning and approval to minimize the mismatch between the commissioning of renewable projects and the development of ISTS infrastructure. The changes are expected to facilitate the growth of renewable energy in the country.

The Ministry said that the two regional committees, namely Regional Power Committee and the Regional Power Committee (Transmission Planning), which had to be consulted separately, had delayed the planning and approval of ISTS projects. The Regional Power Committee (Transmission Planning) had been dissolved to cut down the time taken for approval. The terms of reference of the Regional Power Committee had been modified to facilitate regional consultation for planning and approval of ISTS projects.

After considering the recommendations of the CTU and the Regional Power Committee, the NCT will propose the expansion of ISTS. It would examine the cost of the proposed ISTS program and decide on the roadmap for its implementation.

The Ministry of Power has carried out several reforms recently to foster the growth of transmission infrastructure in the country.

Last month, the Ministry of Power notified the Electricity (Transmission System Planning, Development, and Recovery of Interstate Transmission Charges) Rules 2021 to enable power utilities to smoothly access the transmission network across the country.

The Ministry earlier issued amendments to the ‘equity lock-in period’ given in the standard bidding documents to select transmission service providers for ISTS projects. As per the amendments, the chosen bidder’s aggregate equity shareholding in the special purpose vehicle should not be less than 51% up to one year after the project’s commercial operation date.

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