Maharashtra gets market moving, Incentives announced

NEPC Micon has installed two turbines at its wind farm in Chalkewadi district within six weeks of the introduction of incentives for renewable energy development in the state of Maharashtra in west India. NEPC plans to install 50 MW in Maharashtra by next March.

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Within six weeks of the introduction of incentives for renewable energy development in the state of Maharashtra in west India, NEPC Micon had installed two 225 kW turbines at its wind farm in the Chalkewadi district. The two wind turbines are the first to be privately owned in the state.

According to NEPC's Raj Kumar Khemka, the company plans to install 50 MW in Maharashtra by the close of the current financial year next March. Windy sites identified in the state by the Ministry of Non Conventional Energy Sources (MNES) include Sindhudurg, Ratnagiri, Satara and Sangli. Maharashtra had been expecting a shortfall of 20% in energy supply by the year 1998 and has introduced incentives for private development of renewables to make up the predicted deficit. Its wind potential is about 5000 MW.

The renewables programme is being run by the Maharashtra State Electricity Board (MSEB), along with the Maharashtra Energy Development Agency (MEDA). MEDA will identify and select potential sites and help buy land, while MSEB has agreed to buy electricity generated at a rate of INR 2.25/kWh. In addition, the purchase tariff will increase by 5% annually. MSEB has also said it will provide grid connection and has introduced a scheme for wheeling wind across transmission lines and for operators to bank wind electricity to avoid power cuts. No electricity duty will be charged to any industry using the power it generates from renewable energy sources for its own needs.

Maharashtra, with its low wind speeds, has not been on wind developers' list of priorities. "Whereas our 225 kW machines ordinarily generate 550,000 units, here the same machines generate 350,000 units. The high purchase price, however, compensates the low wind speeds," says Khemka.

In the international electric power industry Maharashtra is better known for its sudden about turn on the huge Enron power plant investment which threw the entire business into shocked disarray for several weeks last year. But Khemka is not concerned about the state's poor reputation on keeping its promises on electricity development. "Big power plants require policy statements. As far as renewables go, there is nothing to negotiate. So, we are not feeling shaky," he says.

NEPC Micon has also entered into a joint venture with the State Industrial and Investment Corporation of Maharashtra to promote and develop wind farms in Maharashtra. "The agreement will speed up implementation. We plan to set up wind farms and sell them to private clients," says Khemka.

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