“Centre not prompt in accepting request for financial aid for transmission infrastructure’’

Making most of the platform offered by the seventh conference of power ministers, Tamil Nadu raised a host of issues, ranging from the Centre not extending financial assistance for wind energy transmission infrastructure to the need for expediting clearances for thermal projects.

Addressing the meeting in New Delhi on Tuesday, Electricity Minister Natham R.Viswanathan said in spite of the huge investment, the Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation Ltd (Tangedco) was setting up the infrastructure at a cost of Rs.3,774 crore. The Corporation, he added, was the largest purchaser of wind energy fully complying with the Renewable Purchase Obligation.

The Centre, he said, was not prompt in accepting the State’s request for financial assistance for the transmission infrastructure. It had also, he added, “negatived our request for assistance from the National Clean Energy Fund.”

Urging the Centre to reconsider its stand and provide assistance from the Fund, he said the transmission charge per unit of wind or solar energy is 4-5 times costlier than that of conventional power.

The State, which is doing more than its share for renewable energy, Mr.Viswanathan said, was being penalised by the proposed tightening of frequency band 49.9 to 50.1 Hz. “With this, it will be very difficult to inject infirm power like wind energy into grid due to large variations in generation during the day,” he pointed out.

On the issue of clearances, the Electricity Minister appealed to the Union Power Minister to take up with the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest the necessity to speed up clearances for two thermal projects. Though an Expert Appraisal Committee of MoEF had recommended environmental clearance for the Udangudi Super Thermal Power Project and Cheyyur Ultra Mega Power Project, the Ministry had not issued final clearance. Delay in execution of thermal power projects in the State by BHEL, he added, was a matter of great concern. “Commissioning of North Chennai Thermal Power Project as well as our joint venture with NTPC had been delayed by more than two years by BHEL,” Mr. Viswanathan said, urging the Union Ministry of Power to impress upon the Ministry of Heavy Industry for early commissioning.

Many new thermal projects were on the verge of getting commissioned. The 600-MW Mettur Thermal Power Project had reached the rated capacity and would be commissioned by the month-end. Two units of North Chennai Thermal Power Project with 600 MW each were also to be commissioned shortly. The power utility, he added, had signed long-term power purchase agreements for 15 years for a capacity of 1,208 MW with supply commencing from February 1, 2014.

The State also wanted the Centre to provide assistance from Power System Development Fund, which remains unutilised, for its proposals to strengthen the grid.

TANGEDCO, he added, has sent a proposal to the Centre for assistance under National Electricity Fund for taking up strengthening of sub-transmission and distribution works at a cost of Rs.634 crore.

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