‘Govt. committed to popularising solar energy’

Minister for Energy D.K. Shivakumar on Tuesday said that the government had set a target of producing 1,000 MW of solar power. Tenders had been invited to set up solar plants with total capacity of 500 MW.

Replying to C.H. Vijayashankar and Kota Srinivas Poojari (both of the BJP) in the Legislative Council, the Minister said the government was committed to promoting solar energy in a big way, thanks to the Solar Policy–2014 announced recently. The government planned to encourage households and entrepreneurs to generate solar power by installing solar units on rooftops, he said.

Of the targeted 1,000 MW production, about 300 MW would be earmarked for farmers. They would be encouraged to set up small plants to run their solar-operated IP sets. The scheme would be implemented through Karnataka Renewable Energy Development Ltd. (KREDL).

Distribution companies and the Department of Social Welfare would be given the responsibility of identifying 808 beneficiaries and offer them IP sets. Rate contract tenders had been invited through KREDL, he said.

The response from solar power producers was not enthusiastic, the Minister said, and added that some private companies who won tenders failed to supply power as promised. The department attached their bank guarantees and penalised them for not honouring the agreement, he said.

Bidders were expected to get land and get it converted for non-agricultural purposes. Selected bidders should sign a memorandum of understanding with electricity supply companies to supply power to them, which would be for 25 years. Companies were expected to produce power within 18 months of signing the power purchase agreement, he said.

Vigilance squad

To another question by Achar Halappa Basappa of the BJP, Mr. Shivakumar said the vigilance squad of the department was not functioning to expectations. New guidelines would be drafted, besides chalking out a plan for the squad to function by month-end.

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