Tender-winning projects face transmission-access delays

INDIA: Of the 1GW auctioned in India's first federal wind-power tender, about 300MW capacity may be delayed due to grid-access problems.

Stand-off… Developers with no permitted projects are blocking grid access for some tender winners (pic: Catherine Early)

According to the guidelines, bidders were required to connect their projects directly to the high-tension inter-state transmission system managed by the Central Transmission Utility (CTU).

But two winning bidders from the first auction, Green Infra and Adani Green Energy, do not have CTU- approved connectivity as the available access points are already booked by other parties, including wind-power players that did not win any bids.

To resolve the problem, the government asked regulator the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) to grant priority access to bid winners.

According to the CTU, 35 renewable-energy developers and wind-equipment manufacturers were not using the bays granted to them. With 8GW of capacity additions in the past two years, the problem has become acute as available bays are almost completely exhausted and there are long waiting lists, even as many bays lie idle.

The developers argued they had acquired connectivity bays to be prepared in case they won a project at an auction, and just because they didn’t win, these bays should not be taken away from them.

In its order, CERC ruled out preferential treatment for the bid winners. "The bidders were expected to carry out their due diligence with regard to the availability of the bay within the timeline for execution of the project and submit their bids accordingly," CERC said.

"They cannot claim ignorance at this point of time. Successful bidders took the risks at the time of submission of bids and cannot be granted special dispensation in the matter of grant of connectivity."  

Hint of change

The order was also critical of developers and said that the bays could not be kept unutilised indefinitely. "Since there are no reciprocal financial obligations, no vested right can be said to have been created in favour of the applicants who have been granted connectivity."

This development creates problems for the two companies to get CTU access under the normal process. While Adani Green Energy can use the bay available to its parent company, Adani Power, Green Infra may find it difficult to jump the queue and secure access within the stipulated time, considering that the bid winners are expected to build and commission their projects within 18 months of signing the power purchase agreement.

Taking note of these developments, the second bid for 1GW was delayed to ensure bidders had secured CTU access before participating in the bid process.