February 04

GERC nod to solar power supply by salt pan workers

Ahmedabad: Setting the stage for salt pan workers to supply solar power and make some extra money, Gujarat Electricity Regulatory Commission (GERC) has permitted Gujarat Urja Vikas Nigam Ltd (GUVNL) to procure 2.7 MW solar power generated by salt pan workers of Self Employed Women Association (SEWA) during off-season period in salt pan work.

As many as 3,000 salt pan workers in the Kutch desert use solar-powered pumps to draw saline water for salt production. These salt pan workers use solar panels- with an aggregate capacity to produce 2.7 MW power- for six months (October to April) for salt production at a remote location. The panels remain idle in warehouses during the remaining off-season period of six months.

SEWA had requested Gujarat government to devise a suitable mechanism for purchase of power generated from these solar panels during the off-season period to optimally utilise the panels for socio-economic upliftment of salt pan workers. Subsequently, Grassroot Trading Network for Women (GTNfW), a SEWA entity, also received a go-ahead from the government to set up a solar power project of the same capacity.

GUVNL approached GERC for the latter’s approval to procure solar power from salt pan workers during off-season period. The state regulator recently approved GUVNL’s petition as a special case considering the socio-economic upliftment of salt pan workers.  

The state power regulator recently directed the state-run power utility to enter into a power purchase agreement (PPA) with Surendranagar Mahila and Bal Vikas Mandal (SMBVM), another SEWA entity. All salt pan workers are members of (SMBVM).

“We approve the proposed arrangement of the petitioner (GUVNL) for procurement of solar power generated from 2.7 MW solar power project of SMBVM during off season period at average power purchase cost (APPC) of GUVNL applicable for year of commissioning of the project,” the GERC order said.

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