BHUBANESWAR: State-owned power trading company, Gridco, is in the eye of a storm for showing undue favour to Vedanta Resources in sale of power at an abysmally low rate when electricity prices were soaring at extraordinary high levels at energy exchanges.
Informed sources said Vedanta had procured around 250 MW power for its captive generating plant (CGP) at Jharsuguda at a negotiated price of Rs 3 per unit against Rs 7.80 per unit fixed by the Odisha Electricity Regulatory Commission (OERC) for emergency power. Vedanta which has a 1.6 MTPA aluminium smelting plant and 3,615 MW thermal power generation facility at Jharsuguda sourced electricity at the cheapest price when the same was being traded at over Rs 13 per unit at the power exchanges.
As per the OERC tariff order, energy charges for high tension (HT) and extra high tension (EHT) category at 60 per cent above load factor is Rs 4.75 and Rs 4.70 per unit while the price at below 60 per cent load factor is Rs 5.85 and Rs 5.80 per unit respectively. While some in the trading utility shift the blame to Tata Power Western Odisha Distribution Limited (TPWODL), sources familiar with the development said a thorough investigation will knock out many skeletons from the Gridco cupboard.
The second instance of corporate benevolence by Gridco to Vedanta was found during the sale of 130 MW of power though auction route. Gridco floated tender to sell 130 MW power to State CGPs keeping the base price at Rs 3.51 per unit. Three companies having captive power plants - Sree Metaliks, Vedanta and SMC Power Limited bid for the bucket filling surplus power of Gridco.
Highly placed sources in Gridco said Sree Metaliks opted out noting that the base price fixed by Gridco is more than the market price of electricity. While SMC Ltd quoted Rs 4.01 per unit for 10 MW, Vedanta offered to pay Rs 3.68 per unit. As per the order of OERC, the price for sale of such surplus power to State CGPs should not be less than Rs 4.50 per unit. The higher price quoted by a bidder should be the price for all.
In contravention of the OERC order and without taking the approval of the Chairman of the Gridco Board of Directors, the commerce wing of the trading utility agreed to the lower price offered by Vedanta. At a conservative estimate, Gridco has sustained losses of Rs 30 crore in the two deals.
After coming to know about the matter, Principal Secretary Energy cum Gridco Chairman Nikunja Dhal has sought an explanation from Managing Director Trilochan Panda on how such big trading decisions were taken without his approval and intimation to the State government. Meanwhile, Gridco has cancelled both deals.