CERC Shunts SP Infra Plea On Rihand Floating Solar UPERC’s Way, Citing Jurisdiction

CERC Shunts SP Infra Plea On Rihand Floating Solar UPERC’s Way, Citing Jurisdiction APTEL Raises Concern Over Unscheduled Power Drawal From Grid By RE Generators

The Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC), in an order that will hopefully show the way to many similar pleas, has refuse to consider a plea by Rihand Floating Solar Private Limited regarding return of its bank guarantees for the said project from SECI. Rihand Floating Solar is a special purpose vehicle set up by Shapoorji Pallonji Infra Capital Co. Private Limited, after it won a parcel of 50 MW in the tender for 150 MW of floating solar on the Rihand reservoir.  The CERC has also rejected tariff adoption for the same project in April this year, on the same grounds as it has cited now. The project’s lack of status as a composite project, with sales across more than one state.

The bid, won in the 2018 tender, followed by the signing of PPA’s with SECI in 2019, has been a virtual non starter, due to the nature of the project, be it the logistics of the terrain, the issue of sourcing floating platforms domestically, and finally, the Covid pandemic, which took out a whole year effectively.

Rihand Floating had moved to cancel the project as per the PPA, after the delays condoned by the force majeure clause refused to end, with other issues cropping up. Including the alleged inability of a float manufacturing firm, to plan production in India due to the pandemic.

However, CERC’s issue has been different. It pointed out that its jurisdiction, while applicable to cases involving  central government entities like SECI, also needed a second condition, that sale of power generated from such projects be spread over more than one state. It saw no convincing case for such a scenario in this case, with SECI having back to back sale agreements  with UP discoms. Not only that, the commission ruled that the possibility of sales being made to other states in the event of failure to offtake power from the project by the UP discom were low enough to be irrelevant. Thus, in its view, this was a fit case for being handled  by the ‘appropriate commission”, or the UPERC, one assumes.

While the CERC ruling appears consistent with its stand and various SC rulings on the issue, the fact remains that starting afresh at UPERC will mean a considerable delay before SP Infra sees its bank guarantees back with it.

The challenges in the Rihand floating solar plans have been well documented, and progress remains slow on what was  touted as India’s biggest floating solar plant at the time of announcement.

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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