Amaravati: The revolutionary decision taken by the State Government to provide continuous power supply on permanent basis is on course of becoming successful as rapid steps are being taken in that direction.
In contrast to the previous Government which caused a dent to the exchequer by entering into Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) at high rates, the present Government has started a low cost 10,000 MW solar project with the objective of providing continuous power supply to farmers and to ease the burden on the Government as well as power companies. Accordingly, the Government invited tenders for the project on 30th November. In all, five companies filed 24 bids within four weeks as the date for the purpose ended on 28th December. Officials are now gearing up to open the bids and the subsequent reverse tendering. The entire process is scheduled to end by February..
Transparency in tendering process..
The Government has taken up the 10,000 MW solar power project with utmost transparency, putting a check on the corrupt practices and loopholes in the previous government’s policies. For the first time in the country, the State Government has been giving utmost prominence to transparency through enactment of the Judicial Preview Act. The Government has also taken utmost care in preparing the documents for inviting tenders by following the guidelines of the Union Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) . Later, the documents were sent to the Judicial Preview Committee, headed by a Retired High Court Judge, who examined them. Later, they were uploaded to the website and kept there for 28 days for public scrutiny. As many as 150 suggestions and objections were received from the public. After this process, the officials referred the documents again with certain explanations to the Retired High Court Judge who examined the same. Later, the documents were finalized after considering the advice of experts. This is the first that transparency is given much importance at the time of reaching PPAs..
The background for 10,000 MW solar power project:
The State Government has conceived the project taking into consideration the increase in consumption cost of power in the future and to control the expenditure on providing continuous free power supply to farm sector. The Government aims to reduce the cost of agriculture and thereby increase the income.
The Government has taken up the prestigious project by giving priority to maintain quality and transparency through use of solar energy in the next 30 years and thereby save Rs 48,800 crores.
Power consumption in the farm sector has been increasing every year even as the demand for new connections has increased. If this is taken into consideration, the Government would have to offer massive subsidies for power supply in the farm sector. In order that the Government should not go back on its promise on account of huge subsidies, it is going ahead with solar power projects.
According to Andhra Pradesh Electricity Regulatory Committee’s (APERC) statistics, 12,221 million units of power is being consumed by 18.17 lakhs electricity connections in the State. Discoms are supplying 13,039 million units. The subsidy for agricultural connections has increased manifold in the past five years. While there are 18.37 lakhs agricultural connections in the State, the production capacity is only 8,354 MW. The Government itself is paying the Discoms the entire cost of power subsidies to the farm sector. The power subsidy offered during the previous Government was meagre. While it was Rs 3,186 crores in 2015-16, it increased to Rs. 4,000 crores in 2018-19. Discoms were pushed into debts as the previous government had failed to pay them the entire amount. The Government allotted Rs. 8,354 crores for subsidy in the farm sector in the year 2020-21, which is more than doubled the allocation made for the purpose by the previous government.
Agricultural pump sets are increasing by 50,000 every year. With this, the Government has come to the understanding that solar energy is the only answer to make free power supply available in the farm sector.
Solar energy production is done during the daytime and is cheaper. Solar energy production is possible for 300 days in a year. The chances of production are high in West Godavari, Chittoor, Kadapa, Ananthapur and Kurnool districts which use 65% of the total power consumed in the State. Besides, a maximum of 97% of the plants are present in these districts. With more Government lands available in Prakasam, Ananthapur, YSR and Kurnool district, the Government has decided to establish solar parks in these districts.
In this backdrop, the Government, on 15th February, 2020, issued orders to AP Green Energy solar Corporation for setting up of 10,000 MW solar energy plant as 100% subsidiary of APGENCO. The plant will be transferred to APGENCO after purchase of power for 30 years.
While Discoms are spending at the rate Rs. 4.68 per Kilo Watt, the solar energy rates are gradullay decreasing. The price of solar energy per unit is ranging between Rs 1.99 and Rs .2.43 in various States. The State Government can save up to Rs. 48,800 crores through use of solar energy for 30 years.
The Government will lease 50% of Government lands at the rate Rs. 5 per acre. The remaining 50% lands are either private or assigned lands. The Government will pay leasethe lands at the rate of Rs. 25,000 per acre per year.
The use of fossil fuel will come gradually come down through utilisation of solar power. Solar of 6,400 MW will be generated through establishment of 10 solar parks. As part of this, solar parks will be set up at Chakrayapet, M. Kambaladinne and Pendlimarri with 600 MW capacity in YSR district. One ultra mega solar park with 400 MW capacity will be set up at Tonduru in YSR district, two with 600 MW at Rudravaram and CS Puram in Prakasam district, two with 600 MW capacity at Uruchinthala and Madigubba in ananthapur district and one with 1,200 MW capacity will be set up at Kambadur in Ananthapur district. Similarly, another 600 MW solar plant will be set up at Kolimigundala in Kurnool district.
The Government has fixed the PPA period at 30 years as per the guidelines of MNRE. The PPAs will come into force from the time plant starts commercial production. Later, it will be transferred to Andhra Pradesh Green Energy Corporation Limited.
Capacity Utilisation Factor should not be less than 18% during the period of implementation of PPAs. The Partner will take the quoted bid which will be counted in two phases. Commercial and technical bids will be taken up in the first phase and e-Reverse Auction will be conducted in the second phase. While notice for bids was issued on 30th November, 2020, the process will be completed by February, 2020.
The State Government has already launched its prestigious YSR Rythu Bharosa scheme under which Rs. 13,500 is distributed to farmers every year for a period of five years. Along with this, the Government is lending a helping hand to farmers through nine hours of quality power supply during daytime, free of cost, interest free loans, YSR Sunna Vaddi Panta Runalu and several other schemes.
With the Government taking up the 10,000 MW solar power project, the farmers can hope for a lasting solution to their electricity needs.