Transmission Firm Gets No Relief From CERC For Projects In Himalayan Region

Highlights :

  • TPTL asked CERC to relax O&M expense limits for its projects citing positioning of its transmission assets in Himalayan regions.
  • The CERC meanwhile denied any relaxations under the provisions of “power to relax” terming the plea ‘misconceived’.
Transmission Firm Gets No Relief From CERC For Projects In Himalayan Region Govt Orders To Extend Dispute Avoidance Mechanism For All Power Projects

The Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC), in its latest order, denied any relief to a transmission network service provider over a plea to revise its Operations and Maintenance (O&M) norms. The petitioner-Teestavalley Power Transmission Limited (TPTL), in its plea before the CERC, asked the Commission to relax the norms under its “power to relax” powers. 

TPTL is a joint venture of Power Grid Corporation of India Limited (PGCIL), a Government of India Enterprise, and Teesta Urja Limited (TUL), a Government of Sikkim Enterprise. It operates transmission lines in Sikkim. 

In its petition, the firm argued that its transmission lines are spread in the tough terrain of the Himalayan and hilly regions in the northeast. This, it claimed, often inflated their O&M charges, which were higher than the O&M charge share of normal transmission companies operating in plain areas.

The firm said the transmission assets were critical for evacuating power from hydro-generating stations in the State of Sikkim. The inter-State Transmission Line has also been planned and constructed to evacuate power from various large hydro projects located in Sikkim with a capacity of 2900 MW.

“The route of the transmission line falls in the most difficult hilly terrain of Sikkim and Darjeeling hills falling in the Great Himalayan Range, inner Himalayan Range, and Shivalik Range. About half of the total towers of the line are located on steep hilly slopes at 2600 metres high altitude. The towers in the hilly area are vulnerable as the terrain is highly prone to landslides, rockslides, shooting stone…” the petition said.

It also added, “The present norms for O&M Expenses for transmission systems, as specified by the Commission, recognize the types of transmission lines and sub-stations. However, it does not consider separate norms based on the topography of the line, terrain, i.e. whether hilly or plains, and altitude etc. The present O&M norms also do not distinguish between single asset and multiple asset transmission licensees while duly recognizing that single project transmission licensees are not comparable with other multiple asset licensees like PGCIL.”

The petitioner also cited some related case which was put forth before the APTEL, like the case of Ratnagiri Gas and Power Private Ltd Vs CERC and others. CERC, on the other hand, the order said that the powers under “power to relax” should be used with caution and in exceptional cases. Meanwhile, it also said that the TPTL also had the opportunity before the CERC to raise the matter. 

Final order

“…the Commission…while formulating norms for the determination of tariff for the 2019-24 period, solicited information from the generating companies and transmission licensees, including the petitioner to submit actual performance/operational data and O&M Expenses for the period from 2012-13 to 2016- 17 by 15.12.2017. However, no operational data or actual O&M expenditure data was submitted by the petitioner,” the order said.

It also added, “Accordingly, we are of the view that the reliance placed by the petitioner on the judgments of APTEL in 2007….in the case of NTPC Limited v. Madhya Pradesh State Electricity Board and ….in the matter of Ratnagiri Gas and Power Private Limited and Central Electricity Regulatory Commission and Anr. to contend that the application of the regulation in question is causing hardship and leading to an unjust result and, therefore, the power to relax should be exercised is misconceived and misplaced. Accordingly, the same are rejected.”

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