VIJAYAWADA: A day after Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) Ltd, an enterprise of the Government of India, offered to supply 9,000 mega watt (MW) solar power under the manufacturing-linked programme, the Andhra Pradesh Cabinet cleared the proposition. Information and Public Relations and Transport Minister Perni Venkataramaiah (Nani) said that the state government would send its confirmation soon to avail the offer.
“The SECI, appreciating the endeavour of the Andhra Pradesh government to support farmers, has offered us 9,000 MW stating that we can use the same for the free agriculture power in daytime to farmers project. The Cabinet approved the same as SECI was ready to offer solar power at Rs 2.49 per kWh and that there is interstate transmission system (ISTS) charges waiver for 25 years. We will send our confirmation to SECI soon,” he told reporters after the Cabinet meeting on Thursday.
When asked if the government has dropped its proposal to set up mega solar power plants in various Rayalaseema districts, the minister evaded a direct answer. Instead, he said that the government was considering options which would enable it to reach its objectives. “The project has been stopped due to legal issues for over nine months. SECI made a proposal in the meantime. So, we wanted to tap the opportunity that came our way so that cost-effective and sustainable power could be given to farmers. Whatever capacity is available, we will tap it, and explore new and innovative ways to reach our target,” Perni Nani explained.
Sources said that the modalities of the SECI offer have to be worked out as the state government had issued an order to sign PPAs for 30 years, while the SECI’s offer was for 25 years. SECI offered 9,000 MW in three tranches of 3,000 MW each. The three tranches will be made available by September, 2024, September, 2025, and September, 2026 respectively.
It may be recalled that the State has decided to install 10,000 MW solar power plants and identified lands in Rayalaseema districts for installation of 6,400 MW in the first phase. Tenders were invited and developers were identified by the state as well. However, the AP High Court quashed the tenders in June this year after Tata Power Renewable Energy filed a petition complaining that the tenders and draft PPA were against the provisions of the Electricity Act.
The I&PR minister blamed the previous TDP government for the financial crisis in the power sector. Referring to the legal hurdles faced by the government in taking forward the 10,000 MW solar power plants project, the minister alleged that political forces have been deliberately creating obstacles to the YS Jagan Mohan Reddy government. “We invited tenders for the solar power plants in December, 2020. Eighteen months before this, the previous government signed power PPAs for 25 years at Rs 4.86 to Rs 6.99 per unit. Now, they are spewing venom on our government, which is trying to tap power at a cheaper rate.”