CERC rejects Dabhol tariff hike plan

Written by Sanjay Jog | Mumbai | Updated: Feb 19 2009, 04:47am hrs
The beleaguered 2,150-mw Dabhol power project, which is reeling under technical and financial crisis, is now facing serious regulatory issues. The Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) has refused to treat the apportioned cost of LNG terminal in the capital expenditure of Rs 7,562.55 crore as a basis to claim higher power tariff. According to the commission, this could not be allowed as per the existing tariff regulations.

CERCs order comes at a time when the lenders to the project have pressed for increase in per unit tariff from Rs 3.01 at present to Rs 7.60 or Rs 8. This will enable Ratnagiri Gas and Power Pvt Ltd (RGPPL) to service their debts.

RGPPL, which possesses and operates the project, had appealed to CERC that tariff be allowed for the project as a whole, including expenditure on RLNG terminal, through a special dispensation in view of the typical nature of the project. However, CERC said for any specific relief RGPPL could approach the Centre and observed that the provision of removal of difficulties could not be invoked for giving special dispensation in deviation of the statutory regulations. Also, CERC has objected to the present tariff determined by RGPPL on adhoc basis.

RGPPL informed CERC that the project will have an achievable generation capability of 1,970 mw against 2,150 mw in view of the limitations of GE supplied turbine. However, RGPPL and the second petitioner Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company (MahaVitaran) said they were restructuring the capacity to 1,940 mw wherein block I would have 640 mw, block II would have 650 mw and block III would produce 650 mw.

Meanwhile, CERC asked RGPPL to place on record the necessary test results carried out by NTPC (which holds 28.33% equity in the project).

CERC observed that sweat equity of Rs 265 crore of MahaVitarans holding companies in lieu of various waivers given by the Maharashtra government might not be considered for tariff since the same was not utilised for creation of any assets. RGPPL and MahaVitaran, however, submitted that if these waivers were not allowed by the Maharashtra government, the same could have been built up in the capital cost of the project. CERC also said tax benefit could not be allowed to be a part of capital expenditure for the purpose of tariff. The commission has thus directed RGPPL and MahaVitaran to provide the break up and basis of valuation of Rs 265 crore since it also included certain energy charges paid upfront by MSEB Holding Company.

For the capital expenditure towards RLNG terminal, CERC reiterated that for the time being it be kept separately from power blocks, since it had not been put to use.

CERC has refused to treat the apportioned cost of LNG terminal in the capital expenditure of Rs 7,562.55 crore as a basis to claim higher power tariff

CERCs order comes at a time when the lenders to the project have pressed for increase in per unit tariff from Rs 3.01 at present to Rs 7.60 or Rs 8

RGPPL, which possesses and operates the project, had appealed to CERC that tariff be allowed for the project as a whole through a special dispensation in view of the typical nature of the project