Avaada Gets Relief at APTEL Against CERC Order for Maharashtra Project

Back in January this year, we had carried this story on how a CERC order had ruled against Avaada in a petition to stay cancellation of its PSA with SECI. Many of the other key issues in the project, like the  fate of the 28MW already built, or the power generated there, or even the original reasons for the delays that caused the remaining 72 MW build to be delayed were left unaddressed.

Avaada had rushed to APTEL to get a stay order successfully at the time.

Now, after another long Covid-induced delay, we finally  have a ruling (uploaded on 23/10/2020) at APTEL that effectively  rules in favour of Avaada on the key issues. Besides asking the distribution entity at Maharashtra, MSEDCL, to honor the grid connectivity already granted to the developer for a 28 MW solar project commissioned in April 2018, APTEL has also approved the evacuation of power for the remaining 72 MW to either MSEDCL or any other third party.

The Aptel order, not for the first time, and certainly not for the last time, are once again an indictment of the huge hurdles for developers created in the distribution and regulatory environment across states.

In its analysis, APTEL noted that  Avaada Energy’s key grievance regarding the non-synchronization of the completed capacity of its project beyond 28 MW  was valid, while most of MSEDCL’s objections were found to be unfounded and untenable.

After already being granted grid connectivity for the entire 100 MW by the Maharashtra State Electricity Transmission Company (MSETCL), the MSETCL had extended the grid connectivity for the whole of the 100 MW in the name of Avaada Energy only, a point to which MSEDCL had objections to. In fact, between NSEDCL, MSETCL and even SECI, every agency seemed to be following its own interpretation of the rules, while throwing common sense aside,  one reason the tribunal did not quite say in so many words, but which is certainly implied here.

The latest APTEL ruling also continues to build on the reputation MSEDCL has acquired, as one of the most litigation happy agencies in India’s larger states.   The agency’s approach has probably done more to hurt solar prospects in Maharashtra than possibly any other state other than Andhra Pradesh, where the issue of renegotiating signed PPA’s continues to proceed painfully.

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Prasanna Singh

Prasanna has been a media professional for over 20 years. He is the Group Editor of Saur Energy International