SECI Asks DISCOMs to Allow Digital Invoices Amidst Coronavirus Lockdown

Due to the nationwide lockdown, SECI is unable to raise the invoice of its buying utilities


With the country under lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) has requested all state distribution companies (DISCOMs) and agencies to allow submission of invoices digitally.

According to SECI, the submission of digital invoices will make it feasible to release the payment to developers, making their projects sustainable.

Referring to the nationwide lockdown, SECI added that the majority of states are taking strict action on non-essential movement under the Epidemic Disease Act 1897.  “Considering electricity is a required essential service, renewable energy projects even through this hard time are working in full swing despite the implied restrictions,” states SECI’s letter.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government has called for a 21-day lockdown in the country, which has also led to restrictions on the movement of public and opening of offices and other establishments. The lockdown, which started from March 25, 2020, will continue until April 14, 2020.

Further, SECI said that keeping in mind the bill recoveries of the DISCOMs, the Ministry of Power (MoP) has issued directions to the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) to provide a moratorium of three months to the distribution companies to make payments to the generating companies and transmission licensees. The MoP has also requested the state governments to issue similar directions to state electricity regulatory commissions (SERCs). The Ministry also announced that the central public sector undertaking (CPSU) generation and transmission companies would continue to supply electricity, even to DISCOMs, which have substantial outstanding dues to the generation companies, as reported by Mercom.

SECI has also mentioned that due to the present conditions and to protect and safeguard the health and well-being of its employees against COVID-19, it has encouraged its employees to work from home.

“In this process, SECI’s office is closed until the lockdown period due to which it is not viable for power developers to submit the energy invoices in SECI’s office, and similarly SECI cannot raise the hard copy of the invoice of its buying utilities,” states the letter.

SECI also pointed out that since it’s a trading agency and its income is limited to the trading margin, it cannot make payments against invoices without disbursements by utilities buying power even though they are consuming the energy generated.

The economic and social repercussions of the ongoing pandemic have started to hit India, and the power industry is grappling with lower collections, subdued demand, and difficulty in operationalizing assets. You can track the latest updates related to the impact of COVID-19 on renewable and power industries here.

Anjana is a news editor at Mercom India. Before joining Mercom, she held roles of senior editor, district correspondent, and sub-editor for The Times of India, Biospectrum and The Sunday Guardian. Before that, she worked at the Deccan Herald and the Asianlite as chief sub-editor and news editor. She has also contributed to The Quint, Hindustan Times, The New Indian Express, Reader’s Digest (UK edition), IndiaSe (Singapore-based magazine) and Asiaville. Anjana holds a Master’s degree in Geography from North Bengal University, and a diploma in mass communication and journalism from Guru Ghasidas University, Bhopal.