MERC finally allows for Solar Open Access in Maharashtra – On Petition filed by M/s Green Energy Association praying for directions against MSEDCL to comply and issue Open Access permissions to the members of the Petitioner

Before the
MAHARASHTRA ELECTRICITY REGULATORY COMMISSION
World Trade Centre, Centre No.1, 13th Floor, Cuffe Parade, Mumbai 400 005
Tel. No. 022 22163964/65/69 Fax. 022 221639761
E-mail: mercindia@merc.gov.in / mercindia@mercindia.org.in
Website: http://www.merc.gov.in / http://www.mercindia.org.in
Case No. 44 of 2014

In the matter of
Petition filed by M/s Green Energy Association praying for directions against MSEDCL to comply with provisions of the Electricity Act, 2003 and MERC (Distribution Open Access) Regulations, 2005 and issue Open Access permissions to the members of the Petitioner.

Smt. Chandra Iyengar, Chairperson
Shri Vijay L. Sonavane, Member

Petitioner : M/s Green Energy Association
Respondents : MSEDCL ——-Respondent No. 1
MEDA ——-Respondent No. 2

See Below for the ruling in favour of Open Access

 Commission’s  Analysis: –

  1. Having heard the parties and after considering the materials placed on record, the Commission analyzed following issues:

1) Open Access permission through solar generator as single source and

2) Open Access permission through more than one source

Issue No.1: Open Access permission through solar generator as single source:-

  1. Petitioner has submitted that the solar power plants were commissioned and the members of the Petitioner who had applied for Open Access permission also submitted commissioning certificates. Admittedly the applications are pending with MSEDCL for a period of more than 121 days and in some cases more than 290 days from the date of Commissioning. Hence, the members of Petitioner are unable to get credit notes.
  1. The Commission enquired MSEDCL about delay for issuing Open Access permissions to the consumers applied for sourcing power from solar generators. MSEDCL submitted that it is allowing the Open Access permissions to consumers availing power supply from Wind, Bagasse, Biomass, Small Hydro Generators as per the Regulations and in terms of the relevant Orders passed by the Commission. The Commission has issued broad directives/guidelines in case of Open Access for this type of RE generators.
  2. In absence of any guidelines regarding Open Access through solar generator, it is not clear whether to pass the benefits such as energy banking, non reduction of contract demand, concessional cross subsidy surcharge given to other RE projects to solar projects also.

11. MSEDCL  has  submitted  the  current  status  of  11  consumers  applied  for  Open  Access permission for availing open Access from solar generators. It has submitted that two nos. of consumers have already granted Open Access permission from wind generator. Whereas eight Nos. of generators has been also permitted Open Access permission for sale of solar energy to Utility (BEST), which is valid upto 31 March, 2014 and one consumer (M/s Patodia Forgings and Gears Ltd.) has been denied to avail Open Access vide letter dated 19 April, 2014.

12. In view of the above facts the Commission is of the view that Open Access is the right of the consumers and it is casted upon by the Electricity Act, 2003. The Electricity Act, 2003 has defined the Open Access as non discriminatory provisions for use of transmission lines or distribution system or associated facilities by any licensee or consumer or person engaged in generation.

13. The plain reading of Section 2(47) and Section 42 (2) of the Electricity Act, 2003 indicates that MSEDCL cannot discriminate amongst different RE sources. Energy is coming from whatever source, it is inject in the system as a Unit. The Commission observes that MSEDCL has allowed open access permission for sale of solar energy to Utility (BEST) for certain period. The Commission disagreed with MSEDCL submission that it delayed the Open Access permission on absence of guidelines/policy for Open Access through solar generator.

14. In view of above the Commission directs MSEDCL to allow the Open Access through solar generator as single source. The Commission also directs MSEDCL to continue the procedures followed for allowing Open Access permissions through RE generators during previous financial year.

15. The Commission further directs MSEDCL to issue credit notes immediately for the previous months, if not done earlier as per timelines as stipulated in its Citizen Charter.

Issue No.2: Open Access permission through more than one source:-

16. MSEDCL  submitted  that  MERC  (Distribution  Open  Access)  Regulations,  2005 do not provide for wheeling of power under Open Access from more than one generating company/ source. MSEDCL submitted that there are operational and billing difficulties for allowing Open Access from more than one source.

17. The provisions of MERC(Distribution Open Access) Regulations, 2005 is reproduced below:-

The Commission shall allow open access to the distribution system of a Distribution Licensee to a Generating Company or a Licensee, other than such Distribution Licensee, to give supply of electricity to a consumer or person, whose premises are situated within the area of supply of the Distribution Licensee, from the date on which such consumer or person, to whom such supply is to be given, becomes eligible for open access in accordance with Regulation 3.1 above:

Provided that the application for open access under this Regulation 3.2 shall be made by the eligible consumer or person, whose premises are situated within the area of supply of the Distribution Licensee, to whom supply is intended to be given by such Generating Company or Licensee.

18. The Commission observed that MSEDCL has denied Open Access permission for sourcing power from more than one source on the ground of operational and billing difficulties which cannot be ignored.

19. Further, MSEDCL submitted  that  it  is  not  against  Open  Access.  MSEDCL’s  denial  to consumers seeking Open Access through more than one source is only on the ground of the operational and billing difficulties faced by it and those cannot be ignored while granting Open Access permissions. These issues need to be addressed by providing Regulation for the same; these issues are not covered under the MERC (Distribution Open Access) Regulations, 2005.

20. In view of above, the Commission is of the opinion that in the present circumstances it is not appropriate to allow Open Access permission through more than one source without considering all relevant factors including operational and billing difficulties involved in it and framing it into  proper  Regulatory  mechanism.  The  Commission  is  in  the  process  of amendment of the existing MERC (Distribution Open Access) Regulations, 2005. The Commission shall endeavor to expedite the process of amendment of MERC (Distribution Open Access) Regulations, 2005 after incorporating the concerns raised by all stakeholders.

Summary of findings:

  1. The plain reading of Section 2(47) and Section 42 (2) of the Electricity Act, 2003 indicate that MSEDCL cannot discriminate amongst different RE sources. Power is coming from whatever source, it is inject in the system as Unit. The Commission observes that MSEDCL has allowed open access permission for sale of solar energy to Utility (BEST) for certain period. The Commission disagreed with MSEDCL submission that it delayed the Open Access permission on absence of guidelines/policy for Open Access through solar generator.
  1. In view of above the Commission directs MSEDCL to allow the Open Access through solar generator as single source. The Commission also directs MSEDCL to continue the procedures followed for  allowing  Open  Access  permissions  through  RE  generators during previous financial year.
  1. The Commission further directs MSEDCL to issue credit notes immediately for the previous months, if not done earlier as per timelines as stipulated in its Citizen Charter.
  1. The Commission is of the opinion that in the present circumstances it is not appropriate to allow Open Access permission through more than one source without considering all relevant factors including operational and billing difficulties involved in it and framing it into proper Regulatory mechanism. The Commission is in the process of amendment of the existing MERC( Distribution Open Access) Regulations, 2005 .The Commission shall endeavor to expedite the process of amendment of MERC (Distribution Open Access) Regulations, 2005 after incorporating the concerns raised by all stakeholders.

With the above, Petition filed by M/s Green Energy Association in Case No. 44 of 2014 stands disposed of.

Sd/-                                                                                             Sd/-

(Vijay L. Sonavane)                                                                              (Chandra Iyengar) Member                                                                                                             Chairperson

Click below for the full order

Order in Case No 44 of 2014

About Ritesh Pothan

Ritesh Pothan, is an accomplished speaker and visionary in the Solar Energy space in India. Ritesh is from an Engineering Background with a Master’s Degree in Technology and had spent more than a decade as the Infrastructure Head for a public limited company with the last 9 years dedicated to Solar and Renewable Energy. He also runs the 2 largest India focused renewable energy groups on LinkedIn - Solar - India and Renewables - India
This entry was posted in DISCOM, Maharashtra, MERC, MSEDCL, Renewables, Solar, Transmission and Distribution and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.