Thursday 13 December 2018

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Infrastructure | Power

RSPL may also distribute power

 

The Reliance Salgaoncar Pvt Ltd (RSPL) is expected to begin a new trend in Goa by not only generating power but also taking up full responsibility of transmission and distribution, as part of privatisation.

The state government has selected the RSPL, the lowest bidder, for setting up Goa's first mini private power project of 40 MW at Sancoale, an emerging industrial village, 10 kms away from port town of Vasco.

Power minister Mauvin Godinho told this correspondent that the Power Purchase Agreement would be signed with the RSPL by month end, negotiations for which have already begun with the help of Credit Rating and Information Services of India Ltd (CRISIL), a Mumbai-based cosultancy firm.

The RSPL, which has quoted a tariff of Rs 2.03 per unit, has been given a deadline of one and a half year to commission the plant worth Rs 1000 million, after signing the PPA. The state government is planning to bring one whole industrial taluka of Mormugao under its distribution network, charging double the tariff than what the common man is paying today.

Among the 12 bids the government had received, three were shortlisted - the RSPL, Tata Electric Companies (TEC) and DLF Industries. It is believed that they had quoted tariff between Rs 2.03 to Rs 2.14 for open cycle technology and between Rs 1.87 to Rs 2.03 for the combined cycle. The plan is to initially begin with an open cycle technology, generating around 40 MW of power, which would be later on converted into combined cycle, generating around 60 MW.

The CRISIL favoured the RSPL after studying the technical reports submitted by the bidders, applying parameters of tariff rates, technical expertise, financial capacity, fuel management in terms of importing naphtha as well as experience in the field. The consultancy firm is now also helping the government in negotiations and drafting the PPA, to be signed with the RSPL.

Godinho claims that there is no favouritism in selecting the lowest bidder. "We will sign the PPA with the RSPL only if they accept our conditions", he has made it clear. He however seems happy with the deal as the RSPL is setting up several other power projects in the neighbouring states like Maharashtra.

While Godinho feels RSPL is capable of getting naphtha - the raw material required for the thermal power project - supplied uninterruptedly, he said Sancoale has been selected considering the Indian Oil Corporation's naphtha terminal coming up at the same place.

Sancoale, the part of Cortalim constituency which Godinho represents, is surrounded by the port town of Vasco which includes big establishments like MPT, Goa Shipyard Ltd and ZACL on the western side and Verna Electronic City, now going in for a third phase of expansion, on the eastern side.

The Mormugao taluka also consists of several small shipyards, small industries and other establishments. Several other industries have also acquired land either at or in the close vicinity of Sancoale. The government is also planning to set up an export promotion park in the same place. "The power project would serve the need of the whole taluka which presently consumes around 40 MW of power", says Godinho.

Besides supplying "quality power" to the industries and other establishments, Godinho has also decided to supply the same power to the domestic consumers of the Mormugao taluka, consisting of over 1.50 lakh of population including 13 villages and the port town of Vasco.

The PPA, to be signed for a period of ten years, would thus have a clause that the private firm would also take up transmission and distribution of power for the whole taluka at a later stage. "But the private firm will have to build its own distribution network for it, if needed, while the government would have full control over the tariff rates," he says.

The tariff rates quoted by the RSPL are almost double the existing tariff in the state # around Rs 1.05 for the domestic consumers and Rs 1.72 for the commercial purpose, on an average. Though people have to pay "little more" to ensure uninterrupted power supply, Godinho looks at the whole exercise as an "experiment", after which the remaining four projects are to be considered.

When the question of higher tariff of the private project was raised by the opposition in the ongoing Assembly session, Godinho hinted at hike in general tariff by the time RSPL's plant is commissioned. "We are not legally allowed to charge two different rates for the same kind of consumers in one state. The prices have hiked in all states with private projects coming in", he said.

Goa is presently dependent entirely on the National Power Grid with around 380 MW of power being wheeled from Karnataka and Maharashtra. But it is unable to transmit more than 180 MW due to lack of infrastructure for transmission as well as distribution. In fact its transmission and distribution losses are over 25 per cent, highest in the country, while the commercial losses also amount upto 12 per cent.

The tourist state, declared as industrially backward with several tempting incentives including the five-year tax holiday, thus cannot cope up with the increasing demand from the MNCs and its ancillaries due to power shortage. But the government continues to clear the new industries without making any provision for smooth power supply.

Industries Minister Luizinho Faleiro however denied the charge in the ongoing Assembly session that new industries are facing acute power shortage. He informed the state Assembly that total 6497 units including 90 large scale ones are in the pipeline with an investment of around Rs 700 billion. But the power department officials complain that the minister has been clearing the new projects, giving them false assurances regarding smooth power supply.

Godinho however seemed to be more frank on this count, admitting that Goa is facing a shortfall of around 30 MW in the given situation with its requirement of 210 MW. He had even publicly admitted few months ago that several industries were withdrawing from the state due to power shortage.

In order to overcome the problem, the government has now opted for load shedding which is affecting the whole industrial sector in the state as well as the villages on a large scale. According to Godinho, the problem could be solved only by setting up private power plants, which would reduce load on the high tension lines supplied to the medium and large scale industries. He is thus seen taking more interest in setting up private projects than improving the existing power network in the state.






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