Uttar Pradesh Commission Rejects Part Commissioning of a 10 MW Open Access Solar Project

The Uttar Pradesh Electricity Regulatory Commission (UPERC), in a recent order, ruled that AMPSolar Evolution would not be allowed the part commissioning of its two new projects at Tilhar and Begumpur.

AMPSolar had filed a petition for the Commission to direct Uttar Pradesh distribution companies (DISCOMs) for approving the commercial operation date for part capacity of an open access project developed in Uttar Pradesh. The petitioner had also requested the Commission to hold and declare the earlier order dated February 24, 2021, passed by the Commission to be made universally applicable for all solar projects in the state.

The Commission noted that the Tilhar project had already been commissioned, and the requests made by the solar generator for the project were not valid. On the other hand, the Begumpur project was still to be granted long-term open access (LTOA), and therefore it was premature for the petitioner to seek any relief for the project.

Until the Commission framed specific regulations concerning the commissioning and declaration of the commissioning dates of the solar projects, the earlier order passed by the Commission would hold good.


Also, the Commission added that the affiliate companies of the petitioner might approach the Commission with relevant details and justifications, and the matter would be decided as per the applicable orders and regulations on the date of the petition.

Background

The power generated by AMPSolar’s 10 MW Tilhar Solar Project in Uttar Pradesh is for captive use through the interstate transmission system and the distribution network of the Uttar Pradesh Power Transmission Corporation Limited. The solar generator and its affiliates proposed to execute agreements with the captive users for subscription and transfer of shares in the special purpose vehicle.

For declaring the commercial operation date of projects under open access in the state, the Commission, through its earlier order dated July 27, 2020, directed that the project needs to maintain the peak generation corresponding to the installed capacity over one time block of 15 minutes for at least three days within a continuous period of two weeks. Effectively, all solar developers are required to comply with the requirements as specified in the order.

AMPSolar, in its submission, said that due to the infirm and seasonal nature of renewable energy, and the electricity generated by the solar projects was dependent on solar irradiation, which was not uniform throughout the year. Consequently, the petitioner and the sister associate companies face a significant problem in meeting the regulation for declaring the commercial operation date of the solar project.

The solar generator further added that the Tilhar Solar Project had already achieved commissioning on November 26, 2020. However, even after commissioning the project on November 26, 2020, and recording the highest generation of 9.919 MW, 9.558 MW, and 9.111 MW, respectively, it was unable to achieve the commercial operation date regulations stipulated by the Commission.

The petitioner further noted that it had incurred ₹20.88 million (~$280,157) towards the generation loss from December 2020 until achieving the commercial operation date, i.e., May 10, 2021, for the Tilhar project.

Amplus has invested ₹2.5 billion (~$36 million) to develop a 50 MW solar open access project in Mirzapur and another ₹5 billion (~$ 72.5 million) for its second open access solar project of 100 MW.

The Uttar Pradesh State Load Dispatch Center (UPSLDC), in its reply, said that the petitioner had set up solar generation capacity to the tune of 200 MW but was unable to show any difficulty faced. As such, no commissioning request of the petitioner’s project was pending before UPSLDC. Therefore, the petition was probably premature.

In some of the power purchase agreements (PPAs) of Uttar Pradesh Power Corporation Limited (UPPCL) with solar generators available with UPSLDC, part commissioning of the solar project was available.

In February 2021, UPERC had approved the part commissioning (14 MW) of a 20 MW solar project.

Further, UPPCL has a standard operating procedure for signing banking agreements with captive renewable energy projects under which the declaration of commercial operation date of the long-term open access/medium-term open access to UPSLDC for verification and approval was one of the primary steps.

As suggested by UPSLDC to UPERC in the matter of Amplus Solar, the protocol of the commercial operation date is now being enforced on all solar power developers having a third-party sale where there was no PPA. But this protocol does not capture the seasonality of the commissioning period, which affects solar irradiance at the time of year.

Further, UPPCL had designated the Uttar Pradesh New and Renewable Energy (UPNEDA) as the agency for the declaration of commissioning date of solar projects.

AMPSolar also stated that the PPAs may or may not contain such provisions for part commissioning. Even if such provisions for part commissioning are present in the PPAs, it can be only enforced and always subject to the regulatory procedure laid down by the Commission.

Commission’s analysis

The Commission noted that the petitioner had achieved the highest generation of 14.52 MW on January 8, 2021, during peak winter. Through its order dated February 24, 2021, keeping in view the difficulty faced by the petitioner and the verification of the data from UPSLDC, it had allowed part capacity declaration of 14 MW with effect from January 8, 2021. The balance capacity of 6 MW was also declared for commercial operation subsequently.

The Commission had observed that the Tilhar project of the petitioner was commissioned on November 26, 2020, and had recorded the highest generation of 9.919 MW, 9.558 MW, and 9.111 MW on February 6, 7, and 14, 2021.

The petitioner had reiterated that the Commission had allowed part capacity commissioning of the project to one of its affiliate companies named ‘AMP Solar Clean Power Limited.’ Therefore, it should allow relief to all affiliate companies of the petitioner and all solar project developers in Uttar Pradesh.

Rather than submitting maximum generation capacity data to UPSLDC and approaching the Commission at the beginning of February 2021 for allowing part capacity declaration, the petitioner had chosen to approach the Commission in late March 2021, seeking relief for all its affiliates’ solar projects in advance.

The petitioner had only applied for LTOA of its Begumpur Solar Project, which was yet to be granted. Therefore, the Commission was not inclined to grant any dispensation sought by the petitioner regarding its Begumpur project.

The petitioner could not be allowed for part capacity commissioning for either of its two projects, namely Tilhar and Begumpur, as the Tilhar Project is already declared under the commercial operation date. Therefore, the prayer related to the project was unnecessary.

The Commission further reiterated that it frames specific regulations concerning the commissioning of the commercial operation date of the solar projects. In the order dated February 24, 2021, the Commission had made it clear that the specific relief to AMPSolar Clean Power cannot be extended and made applicable to the company’s affiliates.

However, in the case of any difficulty being faced by the petitioner, they may approach the Commission with relevant details and justifications. The matter would be decided as per the applicable regulations.

In February this year, UPERC approved the part commissioning (14 MW) of a 20 MW solar project. It said that separate wheeling and banking agreements should be signed for each part of the capacity of 14 MW, 4 MW, and 2 MW. AMPSolar Green Power had filed a petition seeking approval for part commissioning of the 20 MW solar project at Payagpur in Bahraich district of Uttar Pradesh.

Uttar Pradesh has announced open access regulations, termed the Uttar Pradesh Electricity Regulatory Commission Regulations, 2019. As per the regulations, long-term open access customers will have the highest priority, followed by medium-term open access customers and short-term open access customers.

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