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CERC Rejects ACME Solar’s Claim For Transmission Charges Waiver & Extension Of Schedule Commissioning Date

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In a recent order Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) rejected one of the leading solar developer named ACME Solar’s claim for extension of long term transmission access agreement (LTA) operationalization date in sync with extended scheduled commissioning date (SCOD) for four of its proposed solar power plant each with 300MW capacity.

Pixon

There are two different petitions no. 103/MP/2021 & 104/MP/2021 with same subject but with different date of Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), Transmission Service Agreement (TSA) & Log Term Access Agreement (LTA) date.

In the matter of Petition no. 103/MP/2021, the petitioner & respondents are given below.

Petitioner : 1. ACME Deoghar Solar Power Pvt Ltd, 2. ACME Dhaulpur Powertech Pvt Ltd, 3. ACME Solar Holdings Ltd.

Respondents : 1. Power Grid Corporation Of India Ltd (PGCIL), 2. Solar Energy Corporation Of India Ltd (SECI), 3. Fategarh Badhla Transmission Ltd.

In the matter of Petition no. 104/MP/2021, the petitioner & respondents are given below.

Petitioner : 1. ACME Phalodi Solar Energy Pvt Ltd, 2. ACME Raisar Solar Energy Pvt Ltd, 3. ACME Solar Holdings Pvt Ltd.

Respondents : 1. Power Grid Corporation Of India Ltd (PGCIL), 2. Solar Energy Corporation Of India Ltd (SECI), 3. Fategarh Badhla Transmission Ltd.

In both petition, petitioners seek the following prayers from the commission.

a. ‘Declare that the Petitioners are not liable to pay transmission charges/losses on account of extension of SCOD by SECI due to Force Majeure for delay in start date of LTA.’

b. For Petition no. 103/MP/2021, direct PGCIL to grant extension in the timelines under Tripartite Transmission Agreement dated 24.10.2018, Transmission Service Agreement dated 28.01.2019 and Long Term Access Agreement dated 03.06.2019 for a period of 327 days and 5 months in alignment with the period of extension granted by SECI for commissioning of the Project or such further period as may be granted by SECI on account of continuing Force Majeure.

c. For Petition no. 104/MP/2021, direct PGCIL to grant extension in the timelines under Tripartite Transmission Agreement dated 25.09.2018, Transmission Service Agreement dated 28.01.2019 and Long Term Access Agreement dated 16.05.2019 for a period of 327 days and 5 months in alignment with the period of extension granted by SECI for commissioning of the Project or such further period as may be granted by SECI on account of continuing Force Majeure.

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d. As an interim measure, direct PGCIL to not take any coercive and precipitative action against the Petitioners under Tripartite Transmission Agreement, Transmission Service Agreement (TSA) and Long Term Access Agreement (LTA).

e. SECI to extend the SCOD of the Project up to 18.07.2023 considering the time required to construct the bays and DTL at the Fatehgarh Substation.

f. PGCIL to extend the date of commencement of the LTA so that it is aligned with the revised SCOD i.e., 18.07.2023 and /or with further revised SCOD.

In the above context for the two separate petition, ACME Deoghar and ACME Dhaulpur and also ACME Phalodi and ACME Raisar seeking declaration that the Petitioners are not liable to pay the transmission charges for the period of mismatch between the LTA operationalization start date and the extended SCOD of the Petitioners’ projects by SECI due to claimed force majeure events. The Petitioners also seeking directions to SECI to extend SCOD of the Petitioner’s projects up to 18.7.2023 and directions to PGCIL to align the date of commencement of LTA with SCOD of their projects as extended by SECI. The Petitioners have submitted that in view of the Hon’ble Supreme Court order dated 19.4.2021 in great indian bustard (GIB) area, it is not possible to construct an overhead transmission line in the GIB potential area. Further, the sub-station land was made available to the Petitioners after considerable delay.

In response, the respondent PGCIL submitted the following points.

a. The issue of dedicated transmission line (DTL) now could be addressed by the Commission in terms of Revised Procedure for Grant of Connectivity to Projects Based on Renewable Sources to ISTS system, according to which the last date for completion of the DTL should be the SCOD of the project implemented by the Renewable Energy Implementing Agency.


b. Ministry of Power (MoP) notification dated 15.1.2021 granting extension of commencement and period of LTA in case COD of the generation project is extended by competent authority on the grounds of force majeure, will not be in sync with the Regulations and Detailed Procedure notified by the central commission.


c. In regards of the Fategarh Substation land allocation delay, proper due diligence should have been conducted by the petitioner as the stay order for the substation land allocation was issued prior to petitioner’s application date for grant of ISTS connectivity.

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In response, the respondent SECI submitted the following points.

SECI clarified that they have already granted extension of SCOD till 4.5.2022 for the projects in view of Covid-19 and stay order issued by Rajasthan High Court on Fategarh Substation land aquisition. And on Great Indian Bustard (GIB) issue, MNRE notified all solar developers, about the granting of 30 days time extension of any RE project’s SCOD after the date of passing final order by Supreme Court Of India. Accodingly, for ACME Deoghar and ACME Dhaulpur project, the Scheduled Commissioning Date will be further extended to a date which is 30 days after the date of judgment by Hon’ble Supreme Court on GIB issue. Thus petitioners have sufficient time till 03.02.2023 for construction and commissioning of the power project.

SECI extended the SCOD of the generating stations as under:

Name of SPV (Scheme: Capacity)SCoD as per PPARevised SCoD
ACME Raisar Solar Energy Pvt. Ltd.
(ISTS-1: 300 MW)
25.10.202020.01.2023
ACME Phalodi Solar Energy Pvt. Ltd.
(ISTS-1: 300 MW)
25.10.202020.01.2023
ACME Deoghar Solar Power Pvt. Ltd.
(ISTS-II: 300 MW)
08.11.202003.02.2023
ACME Dhaulpur Powertech Pvt. Ltd.
(ISTS-II: 300 MW)
08.11.202003.02.2023

Commission’s Analysis & Decision :

After analyzing petitioner’s claim and respondent’s submission, commission have analyzed and gave decision on the following major issues arising from the above context.

Issue No. 1: Whether the date of commencement of long term access can be aligned with revised SCOD of Projects of Petitioners?

Commission acknowledged the following regulation under the revised 2020 Sharing Regulations in the above context.
“Where COD of a generating station or unit(s) thereof is delayed and the Associated Transmission System has achieved COD, which is not earlier than its SCOD, the generating station shall pay Yearly Transmission Charges for the Associated Transmission System corresponding to Long Term Access granted for the generating station or unit(s) thereof, which have not achieved COD:

Provided that Yearly Transmission Charges in respect of Associated Transmission System shall be included for determination of transmission charges of DICs in accordance with Regulations 5 to 8 of these regulations upon the generating station
or unit (s) thereof achieving COD”.

Thus it is clear from the above regulation that in the event the generating station is delayed and the associated transmission system has achieved COD, the generating station shall pay yearly transmission Charges for the Associated Transmission System corresponding to Long Term Access (LTA) granted for the generating station. In view of the above analysis, the commission have rejected the prayer to align LTA commencement date with SCOD as revised from time to time. Consequently, the prayers of the Petitioner for seeking directions to restrain CTUIL from operationalizing the LTA or
taking coercive measures are also rejected.

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Issue No. 2: Whether the Petitioner can claim any relief on account of Force Majeure as claimed by the Petitioner?

After analyzing all inputs & considering issue no 1, commission considered that petitioners never invoked the provisions of force majeure in any of its notices to respective respondents. Further as per issue No.1, there is no linkage between obligations under PPA and that under LTA Agreement, petitioner cannot claim any relief on account of Force Majeure.

Issue No. 3: Whether the Petitioner is entitled to get exemption from the payment of transmission charges in terms of Ministry of Power (MOP) Orders on waiver?

After analyzing all inputs, it has been clearly held by the commission that waiver of transmission charges, if any, will apply after COD of the generating station and does not provide any exemption from payment of charges before COD. Thus the petitioner is entitled to incur annual transmission charges for the duration of LTA operationalization date and extended SCOD date.

Issue No 4: Whether the Petitioner is entitled for extension of SCOD of its Projects up to 18.7.2023?

Petitioner claim grant of extension for 24 months for SCOD up to 18.07.2023 on account of grant of Stage-II Connectivity.

In the meantime, on 20.2.2021, the Commission revised the Detailed Procedure for “Grant of Connectivity to Projects based on Renewable Sources to inter-State Transmission System (“Revised Detailed Procedure”) which was effective from 20.2.2021″. As per the revised clause petitioner can complete the dedicated transmission line till SCOD of its project. Hence, petitioner’s claim for grant of 24 months extension is rejected.

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