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Southern states push back: Common power network may miss Dec 1 deadline

While the CERC has not announced the postponement officially, a short statement from the Central Transmission Utility (CTU) said: “Notification for submission of fresh applications for connectivity and GNA and their processing and grant of GNA Regulation has not been received by CTU till 25.11.2022.

The likely postponement of the implementation, which could be a big disappointment for renewable energy developers, is learnt to have come in the wake of a pushback by southern states led by Tamil Nadu.

A proposal to streamline the regulatory framework for the country’s power transmission network called the General Network Access (GNA) regulations, which sought to usher in liberal transmission access, is unlikely to kick in from December 1 as earlier announced.

The likely postponement of the implementation, which could be a big disappointment for renewable energy developers, is learnt to have come in the wake of a pushback by southern states led by Tamil Nadu. As compared to the concept of rigid point-to-point transmission access and multiple rules to change the point of supply or drawal currently, the GNA, on which central power regulator CERC had worked on for nearly a decade, relies on the real power flows through an electricity grid and provides flexibility of access across the whole of India simply on demand — a big reform move.

While the CERC has not announced the postponement officially, a short statement from the Central Transmission Utility (CTU) said: “Notification for submission of fresh applications for connectivity and GNA and their processing and grant of GNA Regulation has not been received by CTU till 25.11.2022. Accordingly, receipt of applications through NSWS (single window) portal under extant Connectivity Regulations shall be resumed w.e.f. 00 hours of 01.12.2022.” What it effectively means is that the CTU has been forced to restart the old process because of the pressure of stakeholders to reopen the connectivity window. A query on the issue mailed to the CERC Chairman did not elicit a response.

According to sources, it is likely that southern states have represented to the CERC seeking the waiver of the GNA charges on Neyveli thermal power station-1 (600 MW) since they are currently exempted from paying ISTS (inter state transmission) charges. The entire Neyveli Lignite Complex of thermal power plants has regional power stations with multi-beneficiary southern states. Under the new GNA regulations, if a plant is falling under the jurisdiction of regional load dispatch centre (RLDC), electricity can be drawn only against GNA. This is the point being opposed by these states.

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The CERC is understood to be deliberating the issue and this has led to the deferment of the GNA regulations, stoking concerns that the new regime may not be implemented at all. The Indian Express had earlier flagged the danger of squatting in the new connectivity regulations.

The central regulator had, in December last year, come out with the draft proposal to facilitate a regulatory framework for GNA. At present, a power generator has to work out how the electricity will be wheeled to the consumer under the point-to-point access concept. GNA will enable them to supply from any point, as long as the quantum contracted for is met. The GNA as a transmission service provides more flexibility and the possibility of open access to the buyers and sellers of power in terms of scheduling, subject to grid constraints, and does not suffer from the rigidity of the current point-to-point open access mechanism.

At present, users have to pay long-term charges under the point-to-point connectivity regime, and shell out short-term charges for any deviations from the agreed path. All that was set to change with GNA, where there is complete flexibility offered to players on injection and drawal.

First published on: 01-12-2022 at 01:13 IST
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