THE OPEN ACCESS DILEMMA
Open access allows large users of energy, mainly those who consume over 1 megawatt of power, to buy power from the open market instead of depending on a more expensive grid.
Haryana electricity distribution companies (discoms) are yet to allow solar power developers to use their power transmission and distribution networks to supply electricity to third-party and captive consumers by imposing new conditions. In a development that may dent India’s image as a green energy investment destination, Dakshin Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam Ltd and Uttar Pradesh Bijli Vitran Nigam Ltd have put on hold the “final charging approval”. Similar move comes in the backdrop of Andhra Pradesh and Punjab Governments seeking to renegotiate clean energy contracts.
This has put into hold the solar companies with investment commitments of Rs 1,700 crore in these open- access solar power projects which include Malaysia’s Petronas owned Amplus Energy Solutions Pvt Ltd, Royal Dutch Shell –backed Cleantech Solar Energy, Nethrelands Development Finance Co; backed Avaada Energy Pvt Ltd; World Bank’s private sector development arm International Finance Corp; and Warburg Pincus-backed Clean-Max solar.
These companies confirm that they have approached HERC (Haryana Electricity Regulatory Commision) and APTEL (Appellate Tribunal for Electricity) to seek relief. Near bankruptcy of State Electricity Boards is the key problem in the Indian power sector.
The development could throw a spanner in the works for India’s green energy projects. International investors need certainty of regulations and policy to invest in the country. This is a situation where large number of international investors are getting impacted due to an attempt to change the policy retrospectively. According to a communication to the MNRE, the Distributed Solar Power Association representing solar firms informed that The Govt of Haryana invited the developers under the solar policy 2016 and issued final connectivity to 348 MW of solar projects and preliminary connectivity to approximately 500MW projects through a detailed due diligence process set by the State Authorities.
Despite approvals, connection agreements of these projects are on hold by state-owned distribution companies since September 2019. In spite of repeated follow ups none of the state authorities have clarified the reasons for the hold up in writing.