Maharashtra discom to purchase 1.4 GW of solar power

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Despite a tepid response to its 1 GW purchase tender, the Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (MSEDCL) has floated another tender to commission 1.4 GW through distributed solar.

The energy distribution company’s previous tender received bids for only 29% – 287 MW – of the desired capacity, with the highest tariff set at Rs3.15 per unit of power. The outstanding 713 MW has been included in the new 1.4 GW.

This year, MSEDCL floated a tender under the Mukhyamantri Saur Krishi Vahini Yojana agricultural solar feeder scheme, to procure of 1 GW (AC) of solar from projects in 218 talukas across the state’s 20 districts. The developers were to set up small solar plants with a capacity of 2-10 MW in different areas and with a maximum district capacity of 50 MW. The plants were to be connected to agricultural feeders at 11 kV or 22 kV level, without any expenditure on transmission infrastructure.

In MSEDCL’s May tender for 1,020 MW of solar from private producers, JLTM Energy (20 MW) and Mahoba Solar (200 MW) quoted a tariff of Rs2.71. Renew Solar Power (250 MW), Acme Solar Holdings (250 MW), Tata Power Renewable Energy (150 MW) and Azure Power India (150 MW) all bid a tariff one paisa higher.

For 2017-2018, the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) has set Rs4.01 as the average power purchase cost per unit. A decade ago, the average unit cost was Rs18.00.

MSEDCL supplies electricity to a staggering 2.20 crore consumers across the state. The discom gets power from Mahagenco, Central sector and private projects. According to the company website, MSEDCL has signed 25-year agreements with power producers to make provision for the required amount of power. Under the arrangement, it was due to receive 4,154 MW of electricity in the last financial year; 5,323 MW in this one and 2,885 MW in 2019-2020.