Gujarat wants solar power tariff reduced

The state government has moved the Appellate Tribunal for Electricity, seeking reduction in the solar power tariff under the solar power policy 2009, on grounds that it was hitting the consumer hard.

With more than 825 MW installed capacity, Gujarat is way ahead of its contemporaries in solar energy generation. However, the government is now finding it hard to pay the exorbitant tariff that had attracted private players in the first place.

The state government has moved the tribunal to reduce the tariff from Rs 12.54 to Rs 9 per unit. For the past three years, Gujarat has been purchasing one unit of solar power from around 80 private players at Rs 12.54. This effort to reduce the tariff comes after a similar petition was dismissed by the Gujarat Electricity Regulatory Commission (GERC) in August on grounds that the government was late by three years in filing the petition. It should have done so within 90 days of signing the power purchase agreements with the private players.

"What we are paying to private players is much higher than the cost of production and plant installation. The government firmly believes that the rate should be Rs 9," said a top level official from the energy department.

Meanwhile, in the absence of a new solar power policy, project proposals of over 1,200 MW are waiting for the Gujarat government's clearance. Incidentally, the Gujarat Solar Policy-2009 expired in March.

The state now produces more solar energy than required to meet its 1 per cent solar power Renewable Purchase Obligation, the minimum amount of renewable energy that a state must purchase as per National Action Plan for Climate Change.

"We will now focus more on small scale projects, involving roof-top and canal top. The state can grant new projects only if the Centre allows GUVNL to sell power as well," said Energy and Petrochemicals Minister Saurabh Patel.

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