Wind Developers in Maharashtra Find Limited Support at APTEL

Highlights :

  • The case was brought against MSEDCL for attempting to change key conditions of agreements.
  • APTEL has preferred to wait and see the outcome in the High Court for a related case before proceeding.
Wind Developers in Maharashtra Find Limited Support at APTEL CERC Allows Adani Subsidiary Compensation For 'Change of Law' Events

The Appellate Tribunal for Electricity (APTEL) has ruled in favour of a petition filed by the Wind Independent Power Producers Association (WIPPA), challenging the process by which e-public hearing was conducted by the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) on July 16, 2021.

The petitioner filed its petition under Section 121 of the Electricity Act, 2003, in respect of the earlier petition filed by Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (MSEDCL) before MERC, seeking to assess and alter the criteria, methodology, mode and manner of wind zone classification of wind projects for purposes of applicability of feed-in tariff.

MSEDCL’s petition also sought alteration and/or modification of existing energy purchase agreements (EPA). WIPPA has stated that it was aggrieved since MERC was proceeding with the matter without following the procedure laid down in its own regulations and without adhering to the principles of natural justice that is causing severe prejudice to several of the members of the association.

WIPPA also believes that there is a likelihood of MERC allowing the claim of MSEDCL which seeks re-classification of wind zoning. In which case, says the petitioner, the members of the association would suffer.

According to Petitioner, MSEDCL issued public notice scheduled to be held on 16.07.2021 without considering issuance of notice to affected parties they brought into the proceedings of High Court of Bombay, disregarding its directives that MSEDCL should comply with the principles of natural justice.

WIPPA has contended that no cause of action whatsoever is forthcoming for seeking relief against the existing projects. But MSEDCL has responded that there was a direction to dispose of its petition to MERC by the High Court of Bombay, therefore the question of maintainability would not arise.

Upon considering the facts of the matter, the tribunal noted from the orders of the High Court that at the time of the disposal of MSEDCL’s petition (originally filed to MERC) before the High Court, WIPPA was neither a party to the proceedings nor was a party to the petition. APTEL is of the opinion that “since the tariff for existing project was already determined earlier, if the question of re-determination of the desired tariff is raised in the present proceedings, it may amount to res judicata (i.e. a matter that is to be decided has already been settled by another court or forum).” Therefore, the tribunal decided that the maintainability of the present public hearing conducted by MERC needs to be heard as a preliminary issue.

Till maintainability of the present proceedings is decided, the MERC shall not proceed further in the matter pending before it, said APTEL, while ordering MSEDCL to maintain status quo on the issue.

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Soumya Duggal

Soumya is a master's degree holder in English, with a passion for writing. It's an interest she has directed towards environmental writing recently, with a special emphasis on the progress being made in renewable energy.