The state’s distribution firms have put on hold connection agreements of open-access solar projects
Discoms DHBVNL and UHBVNL have refused to give ’final charging approval’ to the solar developers
NEW DELHI :
Haryana’ electricity distribution companies (discoms) are yet to allow solar power developers to use their power transmission and distribution networks to supply electricity to third-party and captive consumers by imposing new conditions, said three people with direct knowledge of the matter, seeking anonymity.
In a development that may dent India’s image as a green energy investment destination, Dakshin Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam Ltd and Uttar Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam Ltd have put on hold the “final charging approval".
The move comes in the backdrop of Andhra Pradesh and Punjab governments seeking to renegotiate clean energy contracts. Once a charging approval is granted, plants can start supplying electricity using the discoms’ and transmission companies’ power network.
The firms with investment commitments of ₹1,700 crore in these open-access solar power projects include Malaysia’s state-run oil and gas company Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas-owned Amplus Energy Solutions Pvt. Ltd); Royal Dutch Shell-backed Cleantech Solar Energy, Netherlands Development Finance Co.-backed Avaada Energy Pvt Ltd; World Bank’s private sector development arm International Finance Corp.; and Warburg Pincus-backed CleanMax Solar.
Open access allows large users of energy, typically those who consume over 1 megawatt of power, to buy power from the open market, instead of depending on a more expensive grid.
The ministry of new and renewable energy (MNRE) and Invest India, the investment promotion and facilitation agency, are trying to resolve the issue with the Haryana government.
In an emailed response, a Royal Dutch Shell spokesperson said: “We cannot speak for Cleantech Solar, which is one of our non-operated ventures. I suggest you contact them directly." A Cleantech spokesperson in an emailed response said, “We would not like to quote on the matter as a company policy. We can confirm that the information you’ve received is correct. We have gone to HERC (Haryana Electricity Regulatory Commission) and APTEL (Appellate Tribunal for Electricity) to seek relief."
The development could throw a spanner in the works for India’s green energy projects. “International investors need certainty of regulations and policy to invest in any country. This is an unfortunate situation where large number of international investors are getting impacted due to an attempt to change the policy retrospectively that will make these hundreds of mega watts of solar plants stranded," said Sanjeev Aggarwal, founder and MD, Amplus, a large rooftop solar power producer.
Queries emailed to spokespersons of CleanMax Solar, FMO, Avaada Energy, IFC, Warburg Pincus, Invest India, MNRE and Haryana government officials late on Sunday remained unanswered.
According to a communication to the MNRE, reviewed by Mint, the Distributed Solar Power Association, representing solar firms, said: “Government of Haryana invited the developers under its Solar Policy 2016 and issued final connectivity to 348MW of solar
projects and preliminary connectivity to approximately 500MW projects through a detailed due diligence process set by the state authorities."
“Despite the approvals, connection agreements of these projects are on hold by state-owned distribution companies since September 2019. In spite of repeated follow ups and escalations, none of the state authorities have clarified the reasons for the holdup in writing," it added.