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Maharashtra utility to buy cheapest solar power in the country
Efforts of energy minister Chandrashekhar Bawankule to go for renewable energy are paying dividends with two private companies agreeing to supply MSEDCL the cheapest solar power in the country. Four other companies will supply solar power at a rate 1 paise per unit higher than the minimum rate.
MSEDCL had floated tenders for purchasing 1,020 MW solar power from private producers. Two companies JLTM Energy and Mahoba Solar agreed to supply 20 MW and 200 MW, respectively, at the rate of Rs 2.71 per unit. Four companies Renew Solar Power (250 MW), Acme Solar Holdings (250 MW), Tata Power Renewable Energy (150 MW) and Azure Power India (150 MW) have quoted Rs 2.72 per unit.
The discom’s average power purchase cost approved by Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) for 2017-18 is Rs 4.01 per unit. About 10-12 years ago, the cost of solar power was as high as Rs 18 per unit and MSEDCL was reluctant to buy it. Now it is cheaper than coal-fired thermal power.
A source in MSEDCL told TOI that after the Union new and renewable energy ministry issued a clarification regarding changes in taxes, MSEDCL conducted the bidding on Telecommunications Consultant India Limited (TCIL) website on May 14. Eight companies bid for the tender agreeing to supply total 1,450 MW. Bids of six companies were selected.
“The rates received by us are the lowest among state and private discoms. Such cheap power will definitely bring down our power tariff,” said the source.
The source said that MSEDCL had put a cap of Rs 3 per unit. “Suppliers wanted a higher cap of Rs 4 per unit but we stood firm. Now our stand has been vindicated,” he added.
MSEDCL plans to purchase another 1,000 MW through distributed generation. “MSEDCL has identified 218 talukas where solar plants can be set up. The range of capacity in each taluka is between 2 MW and 10 MW and the maximum capacity in a district should not exceed 50 MW,” said the source.
Bawankule had earlier announced that all farm pumps would run on solar power by 2025. This would bring down cross subsidy in power tariff and also rates for all category of consumers including industrial and commercial.