Supreme Court 20 MW Solar project

The Supreme Court of India has passed an order that rescinds an earlier order by the Gujarat Electricity Regulatory Commission (GERC) that extended the control period of a solar project.

The decision comes after Gujarat Urja Vikas Nigam (GUVNL) petitioned the Supreme Court to intervene after the GERC passed an order that extended the control period (the period during which a tariff order operates) for the Solar Semiconductor Power Company, a private DISCOM, pertaining to the tariff that applied to power supplies from a 20 MW solar project in Gujarat.

The Supreme Court in its order stated, “The extension of the control period has been specifically held to be outside the purview of the power of the commission (GERC). This appeal is hence, allowed. The impugned orders are set aside.”

The Supreme Court clarified its order by saying, “The Solar Semiconductor Power Company (India) Private Limited (respondent) can re-approach the GERC for a re-determination of the tariff by citing all contentions that are relevant under the law.”



The Case

In 2014, after the Appellate Tribunal for Electricity directed GERC to consider the matter, GERC stated that it attributed the delays in the power plant’s commissioning to reasons that were beyond the developer’s control.

According to GERC, the developer had initiated and completed construction of the solar power project and this was recognized by the Chief Electrical Inspector in a letter dated February 17, 2012.

As of February 1, 2012, 8.64 MW of the solar power PV project was online and another 1.48 MW was ready for energization on February 12, 2012. GERC found it to be a clear case where the developer was unable to commission the entire capacity of the project due to reasons beyond its control.

GERC had accepted the petition to extend the control period up to April 30, 2012.

But then GUVNL asked the apex court to provide directions pertaining to the power of the regulatory commission to extend a control period.

The Supreme Court found that GERC did not have the power to extend the control period for a specific case and only had the power to extend the control period generally for the entire state and all of its DISCOMs.

The Supreme Court said that since the project was commissioned after March 13, 2012, GERC could not exercise its inherent jurisdiction and vary the terms to extend the control period of the tariff order dated January 29, 2010.

The apex court also stated that GERC, “being a creature of statute,” cannot assume to itself any powers which are not otherwise conferred on it.

Lately, there have been several instances where the Gujarat state agencies have taken regulatory action to that seem to restrict the growth of renewables in the state.

In October after petitioning the GERC and not getting an expected response, the Indian Wind Energy Association asked the High Court of Gujarat to intervene in the matter of 500 MW of wind being auctioned by GUVNL.

GERC also recently tightened net metering regulations in the state.

Image credit: flickr