The solar mission of Tamil Nadu has come to a standstill.
The Tamil Nadu Electricity Regulatory Commission (TNERC) has passed an order stating that there is no legal inviolability to the Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation’s (Tangedco) bidding process for solar power purchase from 52 companies.
The bidding process has no legal sanctity for consideration under Section 63 of the Electricity Act, 2003, stated, S. Nagalsamy and G. Rajagopal, TNERC members in an order.
The petitions suffer from the prerequisite of transparent bidding process in accordance with the guidelines issued be the Central government, states the order.
It also dismisses the petitions to allow its plan to purchase 708 MW of solar power from 52 generators within the State for 20 years in pursuance of the tender floated for procurement of 1,000MW for 2013-14 as per the Solar Energy Policy, 2012 by Tangedco.
Additional Advocate- general P.H. Aravind Pandian submitted that a transparent process was adopted by the Tangedco in finalising the tenders, in March 17 during court hearing.
Five months later, the Commission said the Electricity Act, 2003 and the tariff policy issued by the Centre had clearly specified the manner in which the renewable power had to be promoted.
The commission assures that in accordance with the guidelines issued by the Central government, reproducing Section 63 (Determination of Tariff by bidding process) of the Electricity Act, 2003.
According to TNERC, the petitioner had claimed that there were no Central guidelines and the Ministry of Renewable Energy had issued draft guidelines only on December 27, 2012, after the tender invitation process.
Reproducing clause 6.4 of the Tariff Policy, the TNERC said that as on date solar power was not in a position to compete with conventional power in terms of its full cost. In such a situation, the said policy specified a better option of procuring costly renewable power at a preferential tariff rate as determined by the Commission.
Quoting orders issued by the Punjab and Andhra Pradesh ERCs, Tangedco had contended that other SERCs had approved tariff through competitive bidding under Section 63 of the Electricity Act.
The competitive bidding route under Section 63 of the Electricity Act, 2003 was not the only way to procure and promote solar power, as specified in the Centre’s Tariff Policy. The petitioner should have filed a tariff petition in time with the Commission for determination of such preferential tariff, notes TNERC.
As specified in the Section 63, the Centre’s guidelines were a prerequisite for the transparent process of bidding. Hence, Tangedco’s bidding had no legal sanctity for consideration under Section 63 of the Electricity Act, 2003, ruled TNERC.
However, Tangedco opposed that they followed Tamil Nadu Transparency in Tenders Act 1998 for conducting the bidding.
In reply, TNERC reminded that it was an accepted principle that, in case a statute directs a thing to be done in certain way that thing shall not be done in any other way. It is legally invalid to follow any other terms / procedure for the bidding process.
On the other hand, every State Commission was authorized to approve or disapprove a specific proposal submitted by the licensee taking into consideration the provisions of Electricity Act 2003 and policies and regulations made, the TNERC said dismissing Tangedco’s petitions.