The Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) recently approved the execution of the proposed transmission system for the evacuation of 8 GW of power from solar energy zones and wind energy zones in the southern region.
CERC directed the Central Transmission Utility of India Limited (CTU) to ensure that the transmission system matches the progress of generation projects. The transmission charges and treatment of the mismatch between the commercial operation date of the generating stations and the transmission system should be governed by the CERC Regulations, 2020.
The central regulator said that if the generating projects are not commissioned and the transmission system is commissioned, the CTU may seek appropriate remedies such as grants and subsidies from the Government of India or the state governments until the associated generating projects achieve the commercial operation date.
CTU must submit a quarterly progress report regarding the execution of the transmission program to the Union Ministry of Power and the Central Electricity Authority (CEA).
The Power Grid Corporation of India Limited (PGCIL) had filed a petition to execute transmission infrastructure for 18.5 GW of solar and wind energy zones in the southern region. After filing the petition, CTU became a separate entity carved out of PGCIL.
In 2018, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy constituted a sub-committee to identify interstate transmission system (ISTS) connectivity for renewable energy projects from the potential solar energy zones and wind energy zones of about 50 GW and 16.5 GW, respectively.
Out of 66.5 GW potential, 18.5 GW was envisaged to be developed in the southern region, including 10 GW of solar generation and 8.5 GW of wind generation.
The Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (TANGEDCO), in its submission, said that the gestation period for the development of generation projects was relatively shorter as compared to the transmission systems.
The Power System Operation Corporation (POSOCO) stated that as more than 70% of solar dispatch was considered in the southern region, solar generation dispatch in other regions should also be around this value. However, lesser solar generation (around 4,435 MW) was considered in the northern region. In contrast, the northern region’s total installed solar generation capacity was expected to be around 35 GW by 2021-22.
The Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI), in its submission, stated that it had so far awarded renewable projects for a total capacity of 25.04 GW, of which 14.24 GW was of solar and 10.8 GW was for wind/hybrid.
The nodal agency added that the transmission infrastructure development needed to be started much ahead of the generation projects as the gestation period of renewable projects was much shorter than the development of transmission facilities.
POSOCO said that it was evident from CTU’s affidavit that 10.5 GW out of the proposed 18.5 GW was put on hold due to non-receipt of long-term access (LTA) applications.
The Commission observed that CTU had proposed the transmission system for 10.5 GW of solar and wind energy zones in the southern region – Koppal (2.5 GW), Karur (2.5 GW), Gadag Part-A (2.5 GW), Gadag Part-B (2.5 GW), and Tuticorin-II (500 MW).
It noted that SECI had supported the petitioner’s proposal. On the other hand, TANGEDCO, the Karnataka Power Transmission Corporation, and the Tamil Nadu Transmission Corporation (TANTRANSCO) opposed the proposal and suggested several modifications before implementing the transmission program.
The central regulator noted that CTU had submitted that it was seeking approval to undertake the execution of a transmission system for only 8 GW in the solar and wind energy zones in the southern region, namely, Koppal (2.5 GW), Karur (2.5 GW), Gadag (2.5 GW) and Tuticorin-II (500 MW).
It observed that the scaling down of the transmission system from 18.5 GW to 8 GW raised a serious question on the entire transmission planning and approval process. There was a gross lack of due diligence by statutory planning agencies such as CTU and intermediary agencies like SECI and the competent authority that approved the program for 18 GW.
The regulator, however, approved the execution of the proposed transmission system for 8 GW of power from the southern region’s solar and wind energy zones.
In May last year, CERC had passed an order granting regulatory approval to PGCIL for setting up transmission systems under the second phase of its transmission program for solar energy zones in Rajasthan.
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