Week In India: MNRE Launches Investments Portal Under Project Development Cell, Forms PDC, Power Minister Holds Deliberations With Industry Associations And More

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MNRE Launches Investments Portal Under Project Development Cell, Announces Group Secretaries

Ministry of New & Renewable Energy (MNRE) has recently passed an order in regards to the constitution of Project Development Cell (PDC) for attracting investments in India..The Central Government has approved the setting up of an “Empowered Group of Secretaries (EGOS) and Project Development cells (PDCS) in the ministries/departments of the Government of India for attracting investments in India by the development of investible projects in coordination between the central government and state governments.The main aim of PDC will be to provide support and facilitation to investors for investing in India and to boost growth in the renewable energy sector.MNRE has requested the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) to nominate representatives from Invest India to participate in the working of this cell. “While a portal is being developed to receive proposals from the RE sector, in the meantime, such proposals can be sent to this Ministry on pdc.mnre gov.in.”,Ministry informed.

MNRE Releases Benchmark Costs for Off-grid Solar PV Systems for 2020-21

The Ministry of New & Renewable Energy (MNRE) has recently released benchmark costs for Off-grid Solar PV Systems for the Year 2020-21.The following benchmark costs will come into effect from today. However, the cases wherein the tender has been finalized as on the date of issuance of this Order but Letter of Award (LoA) is yet to be placed, benchmark costs for FY 2019-20 issued vide Order dated 25.07.2019 will be applicable, provided that the LoA is placed by 15.07.2020. Under the Ministry’s programs the benchmark costs will be applicable in all cases from 16.07.2020 onwards.The benchmark costs are for systems installed as per MNRE specifications inclusive of the total system cost and its installation, commissioning, transportation, insurance, comprehensive maintenance charges for five years, online monitoring, and applicable fees and taxes.

Proposed Amendments Of Electricity Act Aims At Promoting Transparency: R K Singh

The Minister of State for Power & MNRE, R. K Singh, held a Press Meet through Video Conferencing and underlined the importance of proposed reforms in the power sector, dispelling doubts and misinformation. He stated that the reforms are steps in the direction of making the sector consumer-centric as we are all here to serve them. Singh said, “ We are not taking away any powers of States in the appointment of members and chairpersons of State Electricity Regulatory Commissions (SERCs), and the proposed reforms are aimed at promoting more transparency.”While giving clarity on electricity tariff fixation, the Union Power Minister stated that the powers of tariff fixation remain with SERCs. He emphasized that proposed power reforms are aimed at introducing transparency and accountability to protect the interest of consumers and ensuring the healthy growth of the power sector.The Ministry of Power had prepared a draft proposal for Amendments in Electricity Act 2003 in the form of draft Electricity (Amendment) Bill 2020 with the following broad objectives which include Ensuring consumer centricity, Promoting Ease of Doing Business, Enhance sustainability of the power sector and Promote green power.

India’s PFC Ends FY 2019-20 With Loan Sanctions Of INR 1 Lakh Crore Plus

Power Finance Corporation (PFC), India’s leading Non-Banking Financial Company( NBFC) in the power sector and a Central PSU under the Ministry of Power, ended the financial year 2019-20 on a strong note despite numerous challenges including the outbreak of COVID 19.The lending institution delivered a sound financial performance with loan sanctions of more than Rs 1 lakh crore along with Loan Disbursements of about Rs 68,000 Crore in the last financial year.The highlight of the year was the disbursement of Rs 11,000 crore in the last week of March 2020 despite the nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of COVID 19. Backed by strong IT infrastructure, PFC managed this feat of sizable disbursement.During the year, PFC also registered 16% growth in its standalone revenue while it managed 16bps reduction in the cost of funds. The net NPAs of the company reduced to 3.8% from 4.55%, showcasing the robust performance of the lender. Further, the Company registered a 10% growth in its Loan Assets, 16% bps reduction in the cost of funds, and a 16bps increase in Interest Spread. Further, during the fiscal, PFC resolved two stressed projects – RattanIndia Amravati & GMR Chhattisgarh worth Rs 2,700 Crore.

MNRE Issues New Guidelines For Installation Of Standalone Solar Pumps

The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has recently passed an order on Guidelines for installation of innovative standalone solar pumps.The Ministry had received representations from innovators claiming that by using different designs or software for the solar pumps performance better than specified by the Ministry can be achieved in a cost effective manner. In order to promote innovative standalone solar pumps, the new guidelines for installation of innovative standalone solar pumps are issued with approval of Competent Authority. The Ministry will call EoI from time to time for inviting applications from solar pump innovators. To be eligible to participate in this EoI innovators products must be available for testing and field trial.New technologies for which patent/IP related filings have been done will also be eligible to participate in the EoI. Organization which has filed the patent must be the sole applicant or lead partner in case of a consortium/JV. A cost benefit analysis must also be enclosed by innovators  with the proposal.

Power Minister Holds Deliberations With Industry Associations and Re Manufacturers to Ensure Success of AtmaNirbhar Bharat Abhiyan and Make in India

R.K. Singh, Union Minister of Power, New and Renewable Energy and Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (IC) recently interacted through video conferencing with developers of generation and transmission projects in Power and Renewable Energy sector. The Union Power Minister emphasized the importance of the movement for ‘Atma Nirbhar Bharat’ in order to promote manufacturing of goods and services in India and to create jobs.The Power Minister pointed out that from the data on item-wise quantum of imports in power sector given by DGCI (Directorate General of Commercial Intelligence) and Department of Commerce it has been seen that many equipment like transmission line towers, conductors, industrial electronics, capacitors, transformers, cables and insulators and fittings etc. in respect of which domestic manufacturing capacity exists, are still being imported. It was emphasised that for promoting Make in India and reducing import dependency, it is essential that developers in the Transmission, Thermal, Hydro, Distribution, Renewables need to join the national campaign of ‘Atma Nirbhar Bharat’ and wholeheartedly adopt the ‘Make in India’ policy of Government of India.

Solar Developers Urge Karnataka To Fast Track Safeguard Duty Reimbursements

The National Solar Energy Federation of India (NSEFI) has written a letter to BS Yeddyurappa, the Chief Minister of Karnataka, asking him to direct the Karnataka Electricity Regulatory Commission (KERC) to disburse the additional costs incurred by the developers due to safeguard duty imposition during the development of 860 MW of solar projects across 43 talukas.The letter mentions that the tender for the development of these projects was floated by the Karnataka Renewable Energy Development Limited (KREDL) in 2017, and the safeguard duty came into effect from July 30, 2018.The letter states that the solar project developers had moved to the KERC for relief under Change in Law.It highlighted that it has been more than eight months since the solar developers have filed their petitions, and no relief has been provided to the developers by KERC yet. Such additional costs were never funded by lenders, and developers had to burn out their equity to fulfill their entire cost obligation under such cost. It added that it has been approximately 1.5 years since the solar developers had invested their loans for this additional cost. As a result of which the developers are on the verge of becoming non-performing assets (NPAs) due to the non-payment of this additional cost incurred by them on account of safeguard duty.

MNRE Modifies Solar Parks and Ultra Mega Solar Power Projects Scheme

The Ministry of New & Renewable Energy (MNRE) has recently announced Modifications in Scheme for Development of Solar Parks and Ultra Mega Solar Power Projects.So far, there are seven modes under which the scheme is implemented. The Ministry has now introduced another Mode-8 named ‘Ultra Mega Renewable Energy Power Parks’ (UMREPP).The developer under UMREPP includes CPSU/ State PSU/ State Government organization or their subsidiaries. A joint venture company (JVC) between two or more of the above entities may also act as the SPPD.Under this scheme the state government will provide necessary assistance to the SPPDs in identification & acquisition of land for setting up of UMREPPs and also to facilitate all required statutory clearances. The state government may designate any state government organization for the purpose.The land for UMREPP will be allotted with a condition that the development must be completed within 2 years (with a provision of extension for one year under extreme cases) failing which the state government may take back the allotted land in consultation with this Ministry.’

NSEFI Asks SECI To Issue Clarifications Before Calling Bids for 2 GW of Solar Projects

The National Solar Energy Federation of India (NSEFI) has written a letter to the Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) asking it to extend the bid submission deadline of a recent solar tender.The federation has requested that the deadline for the setting up of 2 GW of the interstate transmission system (ISTS)-connected solar power projects (Tranche IX) should be extended to July 15, 2020. It has also requested SECI to look into other concerns of the stakeholders regarding this tender.NSEFI, in its letter, mentioned that due to COVID-19 induced lockdown and restrictions in different parts of the country, many of its members have been unable to stick to the timeline of June 22, 2020, for the tender.Regarding the connectivity and long-term open access, the letter noted that a lot of incremental activity is likely to be undertaken at various substations in the coming month. Considering this, the federation asked if that incremental capacity could be considered for the bidding as it has not yet been approved but is likely to be.

MERC Grants ReNew Solar To Claim Safeguard Duty Under Change in Law

Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) has recently passed an order in regards with ReNew Solar Power Private Limited seeking an appropriate mechanism for grant of an appropriate adjustment/ compensation to offset financial or commercial impact of change in law events on account of imposition of safeguard duty on solar cells and modules.M/s ReNew Solar Power Private Limited (RSPPL) filed Petition before the Commission against Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Ltd.RSPPL’s main prayers were to declare the imposition of safeguard duty via Safeguard Duty Notification as Change in Law in terms of the PPA, which has a direct effect on the Project,To evolve a suitable mechanism to compensate the Petitioner for the adverse financial loss incurred by the Petitioner on account of Change in Law through a lump sum payment and to grant carrying cost from the date of incurring of the cost by the Petitioner till the date of disbursal of the compensation considering that increase in cost has been financed by both debt and equity.The commission ordered that ReNew Solar Power Private Limited is eligible for claiming compensation on account of imposition of Safeguard Duty (including additional GST) under Change in Law provisions of PPA for capacity of 362.50 MW of Solar module/panel installed at project location. It also instructed to provide undertaking stating that all modules installed at the project site for supplying power to Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Ltd. have been imported from the Country/ies which are subjected to Safeguard Duty. 

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