Haryana DISCOM’s Move to Procure Open Access Solar Power Lands in Court, Treated as PIL
The PPA was signed for 50 MW of power from a solar project in Bhiwani
October 19, 2020
A petition has been filed to quash the decision taken by the Haryana Power Purchase Centre (HPPC) to procure power from a 50 MW solar project of Amplus Sun Solutions. The Punjab and Haryana High Court has ordered this petition would be treated as public interest litigation (PIL).
The petition was filed by Monika Sharma and others and represented by Advocate Tushar Sharma. The case was against HPPC’s decision to purchase power from Amplus Sun Solutions’ 50 MW solar project in Bhiwani on negotiation mode. The power purchase agreement was also ratified by the Haryana Electricity Regulatory Commission (HERC) at a tariff to be determined later by the Commission.
Amplus had developed the 50 MW solar project as an open access/captive power project under the Haryana State Solar Policy 2016. The project was registered with the Haryana Renewable Energy Development Authority (HAREDA) for captive consumption and was granted connectivity to sell power under open access on August 28, 2019. Last year, Amplus had secured approval from the Haryana State government for two of its solar PV projects totaling 150 MW to supply solar power under open access route to industries in the state.
In its order approving the purchase of power from HPPC, the state regulator had earlier said that if the project starts selling power under the captive route, it will lead to loss of cross-subsidy surcharge and additional surcharge from the industrial consumers who will be the captive users of this project.
So, “in the overall interest of the consumers of the state, the project should sell power to the distribution companies rather than selling directly to consumers under the captive mode,” the Commission had said in its order.
The petitioners in the plea have stated that the decision is “manifestly arbitrary, illegal, unjustified, irrational, unreasonable, mala fide and biased” and is allegedly contrary to the Electricity Act provisions. They urged that the solar power be procured only through a competitive bidding route.
The petitioners alleged that the state electricity regulator has not ensured the interests of the consumers and has allowed Amplus to charge a higher tariff than what may have been charged by an equally competitive company.
After hearing the matter, the bench of Justice Amol Rattan Singh observed:
The petitioners are not the only ones affected in this case. The decision to buy power from Amplus’ solar project without competitive bidding would affect the public across Haryana; therefore, the petition qualifies to be treated as PIL.
Consequently, the petition was ordered to be treated as PIL, to be put up before a division bench.
Open access solar project developers in Haryana have been suffering from erratic regulatory changes in the state. Regulatory changes in the solar sector, especially in the open access segment, have been tough to track for the developers, which is why Mercom started the services for providing regular real-time regulatory updates for its subscribers.
Image credit: OMCO Solar
Rahul is a staff reporter at Mercom India. Before entering the world of renewables, Rahul was head of the Gujarat bureau for The Quint. He has also worked for DNA Ahmedabad and Ahmedabad Mirror. Hailing from a banking and finance background, Rahul has also worked for JP Morgan Chase and State Bank of India. More articles from Rahul Nair.