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CERC asks Power Grid to seek govt funds to cut cost

 The Central Elelctricty Regulatory Commission (CERC) has directed state-run Power Grid Corp to seek government’s help to reduce the capital cost of its `12,000-crore high voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission line so as to not burden consumers unduly. The line will remain under-utilised for next two-three years because of delay in hydel projects in the north-east region. Transmission charges for various lines are shared among users in the proportion of capacity allocated to them.
“The commission feels it necessary to share the burden of capital cost of transmission scheme by way of assistance from the Power System Development Fund (PSDF) by way of a one- time grant,” CERC said while approving annual transmission charge for the HVDC line between Assam and Agra. The commission directed Power Grid to take up the matter with the monitoring committee of the PSDF and the power ministry for a grant to reduce the burden of transmission charges on the customers.
Although the transmission line between Bishwanath Chairali in Assam and Agra, running over 2,000 km, was approved in view of the hydro electric potential of the north-east region along with Sikkim and upcoming projects in Bhutan, inordinate delays in several of these projects has meant that the line would remain under-utilised for a few years. The line which was commissioned late last year is currently carrying only 900 MW from Agra to Assam, much below its capacity.
Even though the commission sought to shift the burden of the line away from the customers, it echoed the Power Grid’s stance on the importance of the transmission line saying, “the usefulness and importance of the subject transmission assets should not be seen in the narrow prism of its immediate utilisation during the initial years but needs to be assessed over the entire life cycle of the assets which will carry the hydro power from the huge potential in North East for the benefit by the entire country,”
The transmission system was planned to take care of power supply from the North Eastern region, which has an abundance of hydro power resources amounting to 65 000 MW, to load centers that are located several thousands of kilometres away. The first phase of 3,000MW line was completed and various elements were commissioned late last year. The second phase of the project with a terminal at Alipurduar in West Bengal is likely to be completed in the next fiscal.
While the commission approved portion of capital cost sought by Power Grid, it has still not decided on the quantum of charge to be shared by different states. The commission directed Power Grid to serve notice on all consumers for a detailed hearing.
During the hearing, Assam, one of the beneficiaries of the line, urged the commission to not burden the beneficiaries the state with transmission charges for failure on the part of generating station in commissioning the units.