Maharashtra Issues Draft First Amendment to its Open Access Regulations

Open Access market once attractive is now almost dead according to many in the industry. Policies get announced regularly followed by constant amendments leading to a final draft that looks nothing like the original policy. Every state has its open access policy, and it is a continuous struggle for developers to keep up with the changes.

The Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) has now issued the draft first amendments to its open access regulations relating to eligibility, banking, treatment of transmission and wheeling charges among others. These regulations will come into force from the date of their publication in the official gazette.

The draft is up for comments and suggestions up to April 01, 2019. Here is a synopsis of the amendments:

Partial open access consumer will be allowed to avail open access for the capacity not exceeding the existing contracted demand. However, full open access consumers can use open access for capacity not exceeding its sanctioned load.

Consumers who intend to have rooftop solar systems can also benefit from open access. In this case, the credit for solar generation will be adjusted on a gross metering basis for the period for which open access is availed.

Deviation settlement mechanism will be applicable from the effective date to be notified as per MERC (Deviation Settlement Mechanism and related matters) Regulations, 2019. Until then, charges for testing and tariff for infirm power from a generating station, other than one based on renewable energy, will be as specified in the regulations of the commission governing multi-year tariff.

Now, the duration of short-term open access will be a month, medium-term open access will be a minimum of three months and a maximum five years, and long-term open access will be more than seven years. For a period between five years and seven years, the applicant can seek medium-term open access for a maximum period of one year at a time.

The nodal agency will need to provide the facility of online submission of applications for connectivity and open access within 90 days from the notification of these regulations.

Application for the grant of day-ahead open access will be made for a minimum duration of eight hours or for some time-blocks decided through separate orders or by the application moved by the affected party. The schedule given against the day-ahead open access sought must be uniform at least for eight hours and the minimum schedule during the day will at any time not be less than 75 percent of the maximum schedule of the day.

Applicable short-term open access charges in case of repeated short-term open access transactions will be increased by a multiplication factor of 1.25, 1.5 and 2.0 respectively for every 2nd, 3rd and 4th such transaction during a financial year. Beyond that, the charges for such transactions will be set at two times of the approved short-term open access charges.

For renewable energy based medium-term open access and long-term open access transactions, the applicable transmission charges will continue to be on per unit basis, except that it will be equivalent to two times the approved short-term open access charges. Energy settlement will be based on the approved loss in the intrastate transmission system.

In September 2018, the MERC had announced open access charges for consumers in the state.

The Forum of Regulators (FOR) released a report on the issues affecting open access in the country. The report charts a way forward for the better implementation of open access in India. These recommendations were based on the report compiled by the Working Group and a consultative paper issued by the Ministry of Power.

The working group identified the tariff and non-tariff barriers for open access, the impact of open access on revenue of distribution companies (DISCOMs), carried out a detailed examination of the rules for captive generation, their impact on open access, and has also provided suitable measures for the implementation of open access.

There’s a need for a uniform methodology for the determination of various charges such as open access charges, cross subsidy surcharge and additional surcharge, the report noted.

States continue to make open access more cumbersome as they try to avoid losing their customers and future revenues.

Image credit: Bajaj Electricals

Saumy Prateek Saumy is a senior staff reporter with MercomIndia.com covering business and energy news since 2016. Prior to Mercom, Saumy was a copy editor at Thomson Reuters. Saumy earned his Bachelors Degree in Journalism & Mass Communication from the Manipal Institute of Communication at Manipal University. More articles from Saumy Prateek.