The recent attempts by state-owned distribution utilities (discoms) in states like Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka
and Uttar Pradesh
to renegotiate or cancel signed power purchase agreements (PPAs) with the wind and solar power developers are likely to have an adverse impact on the renewable energy sector.
If implemented, this would also impact the credit profile of the independent power producers (IPPs) and investment interest from the private sector in this sector.
Sabyasachi Majumdar, senior vice-president and group head, ICRA
Ratings says, “Given the circumstances, significant uncertainty exists for wind-based IPPs, which has recently signed PPAs based on feed-in tariffs. The same is estimated to be about 830 MW in Andhra Pradesh and 490 MW in Karnataka.
However, such cancellation or renegotiation if finalised by discoms
may be legally challenged by the affected IPPs and the resolution of the same could be a protracted affair. Besides, ICRA
understands that the Central government is trying to dissuade state discoms
from such unilateral action on PPAs.”
This apart, several PPAs tied-up by the wind and solar power developers with state-owned discoms
do not have any termination penalty clause related to any discom event of default, ICRA
pointed out. Further, these PPAs usually do not have any deemed generation clause and are based on single part tariff — which is linked to actual generation. As a result, the wind and solar energy projects with PPAs at a relatively higher tariff in comparison with average power purchase cost of the off-taker discom remains exposed to a risk of forced back-down / grid curtailment, a situation which has occasionally been seen in a few states in the past. In the worst-case scenario of PPA
termination, such projects may be forced to opt for third-party sale and/or sale to group captive customers. The viability of this sale route would depend on the ability to identify third party customers, ability to provide discount on prevailing grid tariff and open-access charges in the state, said ICRA
in a statement.
The success of the reverse auction-based bidding mechanism in lowering the wind power tariffs under the 1000 MW scheme by Ministry of New & Renewable Energy
(MNRE) has prompted the state-owned discoms
to stop signing PPAs based on feed-in tariff and instead opt for the auction route. However, the tendering process as announced by discoms
in Gujarat and Tamil Nadu and the second 1000 MW scheme by MNRE is yet to be concluded. “In this context, the visibility for actual wind-based capacity addition remains quite weak in the near-term. Nonetheless, long-term demand drivers remain intact due to an improved tariff competitiveness of the wind and solar energy against conventional energy sources, largely untapped renewable potential and strong policy and regulatory support. However, the resolution of the PPA
renegotiation/cancellation issue remains crucial to retain investor interest in the sector,” Majumdar added.
UP New and Renewable Energy Development Agency asked developers to reduce tariffs for a 215 mw tender closed some two years back. It said this was because the state electricity regulator did not approve power procurement at tariffs ranging between Rs 7.02–8.60 per unit. At the time of bidding, the benchmark regulated tariff for the tender was Rs 9.33.
Similarly, after Rs 3.46 tariff emerged out of Solar Energy Corporation of India bids for 1,000 mw, Andhra Pradesh electricity distribution companies wanted PPAs, signed for wind power two years earlier at Rs 4.76 and Rs 4.84, to be revised down. As per one estimate, the discom petition with state regulators could adversely affect investment of up to Rs 6,000 crore.