The date of submission of bids for 5,000 MW inter-state transmission system (ISTS)-based solar projects (2000 MW and 3000 MW capacity) under the Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) is likely to be extended by a couple of weeks. A pre-bid meeting decided to issue revised tender documents. The last date for submission of bids for 2,000 MW (8×250 MW) was May 25, while that for 3000 MW (12×250 MW) was June 5.
According to people present at the meeting, developers wanted the maximum size of solar plant per bid to be enhanced to 300 MW from 250 MW offered in the tender. The SECI, with consent of the Ministry of Power, has identified substations of around 36,000 MW capacity across the country that may be considered for substation-based bidding under the ISTS. However, bidders who want to independently connect their substations to nearest central transmission utility (CTU), would be free to do so, they noted.
Under ISTS, a developer has to provide connection from the plant to the substation and the nearest CTU. Developers think there is already a lot of load on the CTU from the existing plants – both thermal and renewable – and it would be difficult to get 25-year-long term open access from it. So, it would be suitable if the government takes the responsibility of the CTU connection, the people quoted above said.
Some of the major developers who participated at the pre-bid meeting were Sembcorp, Mahindra-Susten, Enel Green Power and Hero Future Energies. The ISTS-based bidding is unique in the sense that it is a must for developers to build the transmission lines to the nearest PGCIL grid network from the project site of its choice. The request for proposal for 2,000 MW plus 3,000 MW solar project under ISTS was initially invited by the SECI in January and February, but the pre-bid meeting was rescheduled several times.
NTPC floated a tender for about 2,000 MW solar project under the scheme, but the process too has got delayed. Under the scheme, the ceiling for tariff is set at Rs 2.93/kWh, and developers will have to bid below this price point.
The project will have to be commissioned within 15 months of signing of power purchase agreement and if commissioning is delayed beyond two years since signing of PPA, the capacity would get reduced to the current level and the balance capacity will be terminated.
However, if the project gets commissioned before the scheduled commissioning date, the SECI will purchase the entire generation at PPA tariff.