Joint sector kick start to new projects

With the installation of a 10.5 MW project in Madhya Pradesh the Indian wind market is slowly showing signs of life again after two years in the doldrums. The wind farm is being built by MP Windfarms Ltd, one of a new breed of "joint sector" wind development companies in India. When complete, the project will be 15 MW and consist of 65, 225 kW wind turbines from the National Energy Processing Company (NEPC), the former Indian partner of Danish wind company Micon.

Represented on the board of MP Windfarms are all the parties involved in getting a wind plant up and running, from the project developer, to the financier and the local authority. In this way, one single, co-ordinated organisation works to streamline the development and operation process. "All the investors are impressed by the single-window-clearance services," says M.K. Deb of the company. "Some never bother to inspect the turbine even after four months of commissioning."

Consolidated Energy Consultants owns 51% of the joint sector company. State agency Madhya Pradesh Urja Vikas Nigam (MPUVN) owns 25%, and the remainder is owned by the Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency, the financing arm of India's Ministry of Non-conventional Energy Sources.

Since starting the project two years ago, the company has installed 45 NEPC turbines on the site at Jamgodarni near Dewas. The remaining 4.5 MW is due to be installed by March, Deb reports. The cost of the infrastructure -- such as the service roads and sub-station -- is shared among 14 investors on a per-turbine basis. MP Windfarms charges a fixed amount every month for operation and maintenance, plus INR 0.10 per unit of electricity delivered to the grid. The investors use about 75% of the energy produced, and the remainder is sold to industry in Madhya Pradesh.

The project has been plagued by misunderstandings around a sales tax exemption given to wind energy projects in the state of Madhya Pradesh, one of a number of financial incentives. Despite the exemption, tax officials continue to demand payment. There is nothing the central government can do, Deb says, because "this is a state subject."

Nonetheless, the unusual structure of the company seems to be paying off. In the second year of operation, it paid a 20% dividend to investors who have also received a tax-paid windfall of two extra shares for every five shares they own.