Solar Projects Need Not be Commissioned at the Time of Filing Open Access Application

In an important verdict, the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) directed Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (MSEDCL) to grant short-term open access to Mahindra CIE Automotive Limited.

The Commission added that the credit units should be adjusted in the energy bills within a month from the date of the order.

Background

Navalakha Translines and Mahindra CIE Automotive Limited had filed a petition for the wrongful rejection of their request for open access permission for the period from November 01, 2019, to November 30, 2019.


Navalakha Translines had applied for the permission for commissioning for two newly installed solar projects of 2.5 MW each in Osmanabad.

MSEDCL said that the projects should get open access permission within 30 days.

Later, Mahindra CIE entered into an agreement to purchase power from Navalakha Translines.

Mahindra CIE applied for open access permission on October 10, 2019. However, MSEDCL rejected the application.

Navalakha Translines argued that the company fulfilled all requirements by September 30, 2019. However, there was a delay on the part of the MSEDCL to issue the permission to the commission, and ultimately the project was commissioned on October 25, 2019.

On October 10, 2019, Mahindra CIE applied for short-term open access for the month of November 2019 for sourcing power from Navalakha Translines’s solar projects, MSEDCL said.

MSEDCL noted that as per the commissioning certificate, the project was commissioned on October 25, 2019, which meant that the project was not commissioned on or before the date of application for open access. Therefore, the request for short-term open access for the month of November 2019 was rejected, argued MSEDCL.

On this, the Commission observed that the project, though not commissioned as on the date of filing the open access application, had been commissioned before the commencement of open access from November 01, 2019.

Considering both sides of the argument, The Commission noted that MSEDCL should not have rejected the open access permission. The regulations do not require the submission of the commissioning certificate for the open access application. Although MSEDCL should have ensured its compliance before the commencement of open access, the order added.

Recently, Maharashtra announced various charges payable by open access consumers for the financial year 2020-21 to 2024-25.

Earlier, Mercom reported that MERC issued the draft first amendments to its open access regulations relating to eligibility, banking, treatment of transmission, and wheeling charges, among others.

The open access solar market in India has been offering parallel opportunities for stakeholders, including large corporates, solar project developers, investors, and power distribution companies, to participate in the solar growth story. Read our in-depth report on why this segment needs to be harnessed to attract sizeable investment into the solar sector.