NEW DELHI: The government is set to use special powers under the Electricity Act of 2003 to ensure regulatory passage for a clutch of inter-state transmission lines with the objective of preventing solar and wind power projects worth Rs 40,000 crore from getting stranded.
Top government sources told TOI the power ministry will invoke Section 107 of the Electricity Act to ask Central Electricity Regulatory Commission(CERC) to allow central utilities to build the transmission lines for evacuating power from 8 GW (giga watt) of green energy projects slated to be commissioned from October 2020.
The sources said the directives will cover transmission lines required by the end of 2020 in Phase - I for 12.5 GW, including the 8 GW under way, of renewable projects under implementation or tendered as well as 16.5 GW projects approved under norms prevalent till June 2018.
Section 107 allows the Centre to declare projects to be of public/national importance and issue executive directive to regulators to clear them for implementation by central utilities. The ministry's hand was forced after CERC refused to clear these transmission lines on the ground these were finalised under the process followed before new norms, 'Regulation for Transmission Line Planning', was notified last June. When approval was sought for transmission tariff of these lines, CERC sent them back for approval under the new process. This would have taken nearly a year, by which time the renewable projects underway would have started coming on stream but the investments would have been stranded due to the absence of power evacuation infrastructure.
Under the previous process, Central Electricity Authority and state-run Power-Grid planned transmission schemes based on location of green power projects. The Standing Committee on Transmission, which had states as members, would vet the schemes before sending them to National Committee on Transmission headed by the CEA chairperson. From here the proposal would be examined by an empowered committee headed by the power secretary before being sent for CERC tariff approval. The entire process took a year.
Under new norms, Power-Grid plans transmission schemes every six months and seeks stakeholder comment before sending to Regional Power Committee, which would then send it for CERC approval. India currently has 78, 359 MW of renewable energy capacity, which is about 21% of the 3,56,817 MW of total installed capacity.
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