New Delhi: Electricity regulator CERC has said that the first 660 MW unit of Reliance Power's 3,960 MW Sasan project could not achieve its "full load" in March 2013 and rejected its plea to appoint an independent technical committee to look into the readiness of that unit.
"We do not find any requirement to constitute a committee as suggested by the petitioner (Reliance Power's Sasan Power Ltd) in view of our finding that the unit-3 (first unit of the Sasan project) of the generating station was unable to achieve its full load on March 31, 2013," the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission said in an order.
Reacting to the order, Reliance Power said in a statement it would take appropriate legal steps including filing an appeal in the Tribunal.
The latest order follows another CERC directive passed in June last year, which was challenged by Reliance Power in the Appellate Tribunal for Electricity (Aptel). The tribunal then directed the regulator to pass a fresh order on the matter.
"The COD (Commissioning Date) declaration on the basis of the certificate of Independent Engineer issued on March 30, 2013 was not as per the provisions of PPA," CERC said in its latest order dated August 8 on the matter relating to commissioning of Sasan project's first unit.
When contacted, a Reliance Power spokesperson said: "Reliance Power is examining CERC's order on WRLDC's petition and would take appropriate legal steps including filing an appeal in Aptel."
The regulator took up the matter on a petition filed by the Western Regional Load Despatch Centre (WRLDC), part of state-owned Power Grid Corp.
As per provisions in the PPA, commissioning date cannot be declared unless the results of the performance test show that the unit tested capacity is not less than 95 percent of its contracted capacity as existing on the effective date.
In the last one year, Reliance Power has started operations of another three units at Sasan project taking that plant's total operating capacity to 2,640 MW.
The company has also achieved boiler light up of fifth unit and hopes to put the remaining two units into operations before the end of current fiscal.
According to the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC), even for declaring a de-rated capacity, the concurrence of all the procurers is essential.
The order said: "Admittedly, the generating company (Sasan Power Ltd) and the procurers both stand to benefit from it, but such declaration of COD against the established norms and PPA (Power Purchase Agreement) provisions can't be allowed because it makes a mockery of the established system.
"Therefore, the certificate issued by the Independent Engineer on March 31, 2013 declaring COD at a lower capacity of 101.38 MW is not in order and hence cannot be sustained." According to CERC, Sasan Power had given the declaration for 600 MW consecutively for four days.
"It was admitted by the learned senior counsel for SPL that on account of lack of clarity, SPL had given declaration of 600 MW.
"However, it has subsequently given the correct schedule and hence, there is no intention of mis-declaration of capacity. Considering the submission of the learned senior counsel for Sasan Power Ltd, we presume that there is no intentional mis-declaration of capacity by Sasan Power Ltd," the order said.
CERC has also ruled that electricity scheduled for the period from March 31, 2013 to August 15, 2013 would be treated as infirm power.
"Since, we have held that the unit of the generating station has failed to qualify the performance test for 95 percent of the contracted capacity which is a pre-requisite for declaration of the commercial operation in terms of the provisions of the PPA, the power injected during this period shall be treated as infirm power," the order said.
Meanwhile, CERC has called for a report on difficulties faced by load despatch centres in dealing with performance testing of power generating units.
This suggestion can have larger implications for other ultra mega power projects.
"We direct the NLDC (National Load Despatch Centre) and RLDCs (Regional Load Despatch Centres) to submit report in consultation with CEA (Central Electricity Authority) which shall include specific difficulties experienced by RLDCs in dealing with the performance testing and commercial operation of the generating stations which are not governed by the tariff regulations of the Commission.
"The report shall be submitted within two months. We direct the staff of the Commission to study the the report of the NLDC/RLDCs and place it before the Commission along with its suggestions for consideration and necessary directions," the order said.