Staff at Renewable Generating Stations Allowed to Work During COVID-19 Lockdown
The MNRE has asked for support from the state and central agencies during the lockdown period
According to the order issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs, all offices of the government of India, its autonomous and subordinate offices, and pubic corporations will remain closed except certain essential services, including power generation and transmission units.
To maintain uninterrupted power supply across states, power generation (including renewable power generation) is designated as an essential service.
According to the MNRE notice, the renewable energy power generation projects include interstate or intra-state, supplying power to DISCOMs through agencies like the Solar Corporation of India Limited (SECI) and the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) include solar projects, wind projects, solar-wind hybrid projects, hydro projects, and biomass projects.
The renewable energy generation stations (REGS) generate electricity which is supplied to the grid even in the conditions when the conventional power plants may not be running to the optimal levels due to logistics constraints. So, the Ministry has stated that the operation of these stations is critical in maintaining an uninterrupted power supply in the country.
To maintain an uninterrupted supply of power, the MNRE has asked for the following support:
- The renewable generating stations’ staff and associated workforce should be allowed to move, and the movement of material should be allowed at such sites, substations, and transmission lines with the minimum workforce.
- Allowing minimum staff to work for those generating stations and offices for ensuring uninterrupted power supply generation.
- Allow relaxation in Section 144, national lockdown, or curfew on the number of people to gather at the renewable generating stations sites or locations where it may be required for operation and maintenance activities of renewable power generation.
- Availability of batteries, energy storage systems, electrical equipment, maintenance, and other equipment and other tools for maintenance activities.
- Allow round-the-clock permission to mobilize field staff to be able to reach and access electrical installations of renewable generating stations.
To maintain continuous power, the Ministry has requested that all these permissions should be granted to relevant officers and staff. It has also requested the authorities to issue the necessary ID cards and proofs for the movement of employees and associated workforce. The Ministry has stated that the state government may also issue similar instructions for state renewable power generating stations and independent power producers that supply renewable power within the states.
Recently, considering the adverse impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on the global economy, the MNRE issued an official memorandum, which stated that the time extension in scheduled commissioning of renewable projects due to the disruption of supply chains would be treated as a ‘force majeure’ event.
In February, the Ministry of Finance had issued a clarification that coronavirus will be covered in the force majeure clause (FMC) and should be considered as a case of natural calamity. Further, the Ministry has stated that this clause can be invoked wherever appropriate.