MERC Relief For Wind Energy Generator In Maharashtra

MERC Relief For Wind Energy Generator  In Maharashtra

The Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC), in its order earlier this month, provided relief from the threat of disconnection to a Wind Energy Generator (Rajlakshmi Minerals) , after the state discom, Maharashtra State Energy Distribution Company Limited (MSEDCL) threatened to disconnect its  turbines. MSEDCL’s contention was threefold.

a) Apparent non-installation of individual meters at each wind turbine location;
b) Alleged non-maintenance of the individual generation records; and
c) Alleged non-installation of circuit breaker.

For RM Minerals, which had installed the 850kW Wind Turbines back in 2014, the notice of disconnection for contravening the Wind Energy Purchase Agreement (WEPA) was a shock that took it running to the state regulator’s door for relief.  With just 4 WTG’s of 850kW capacity as part of the Bhenewade wind farm operated by Gamesa with a size of 24.65 MW (made up of 29 WTGs), RM’s own share is 3.40 MW.

MERC, in its order, tackled the three reasons cited by MSEDCL in detail to provide relief from any adverse action and further course of developments here.   The commission at the outset noted that for ease of operation and cost economics in the early years of Wind Energy, projects have been built with common evacuation network. The said practice is continued further by facilitation of group metering. To address billing aspects with regards to WTGs feeding power to common evacuation facilities, the Commission vide its letter dated 1 July 2005 had accorded its approval for group metering. It noted that the many facilities including the Petitioner were operational since then. Thus the raising of issues by MSEDCL regarding practices prevailing for decades, it needs to be deliberated and if correction is required, sufficient time must be given for implementing such correction. MSEDCL’s action of giving notice for disconnection without giving sufficient time for correction is thus not appreciable for the impact it will have on prospective investors.

Moving to the three issues, MERC noted that if ownership and tariff of individual WTGs connected on common evacuation line is same then metering at point of delivery serves the purpose, as bifurcation of units is not the issue. But if ownership or tariff for connected WTGs are not same, then individual metering is warranted. In this case, individual meters connected at WTGs are used for apportionment of generation among other players, it is necessary to have same specification meter at individual WTG and at metering point. Thus, MSEDCL should have issued a ‘notice to cure’ to the generator instead to rectify the situation in face of changed ground realities.

On the issue of non-maintainance of records, MERC bench noted that although EPA requires maintaining of operating record at WTG site, since MSEDCL carried out inspection without prior information, RM had no opportunity to instruct the officials at the facility to make the information and records pertaining specifically to the RM’s WEG available to MSEDCL Official. Also, MSEDCL has failed to demonstrate how alleged non maintenance of operational records affects Grid. To resolve the said issue MSEDCL could have issued a ‘Notice to Cure’ under the WEPA. But reference made to WEPA and concluding that non-maintenance of record is endangering grid is not logical.

Finally on the matter of installation of circuit breaker, while noting that the practice till recently was to not install circuit breakers, with even the legal basis putting the onus on consumers rather than generators, MERC has instructed MSEDCL to call a meeting of generators and provide a six month window to install circuit breakers. With no update from MSEDCL, the commission sided with the petitioner, RM to disallow any question of disconnection from MSEDCL.

The order can be viewed here.

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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