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The Central Electricity Authority (CEA) has issued the draft Communication Standards for Power System Operation Regulations 2019

The Central Electricity Authority (CEA) has issued the draft Communication Standards for Power System Operation Regulations 2019

Reforms and Regulations

The Central Electricity Authority (CEA) has issued the draft Communication Standards for Power System Operation Regulations 2019. These regulations aim to provide for planned development of communications infrastructure to ensure seamless integration, reliable, redundant and secure communication for power system operations. The regulations will come into force on the date of their publication in the official gazette. These regulations lay guidelines to provide reliable data communication and tele-protection for power system at national, regional, interstate and intra-state levels and form a wideband network to support the requirement of power system operation. CEA has invited comments/ suggestions by May 10, 2019.

CEA has issued norms for installation of ammonia and sea water based flue-gas desulfurisation (FGD) systems in compliance with the environmental regulations issued by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) in December 2015. The norms specify the modified limits for specific water consumption by thermal power plants (TPPs) and conversion of existing once-through based condenser cooling system to recirculation type.

Central Sector

Power Finance Corporation Limited (PFC) has signed a share purchase agreement to acquire the entire 52.63 per cent stake of the central government in REC Limited at a cash purchase consideration of Rs 139.50 per share with a total acquisition cost of about for Rs 145 billion. This is a major milestone achieved by PFC, which will now become a promoter and the holding company of REC. The consideration for the transaction is expected to be paid on March 28, 2019 and funds for the same have been arranged by PFC already.

The Ministry of Power (MoP) is may look at issuing norms for encouraging the use of environmentfriendly aluminum cables in order to mitigate the ill-effects of lead-based cables currently used in high voltage underground transmission lines. The deployment of lead-sheathed cables for underground applications is a widely used practice but affects the ecosystem as lead seeps into the soil and water-tables. The Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) had called for the ministry’s intervention on the issue in December 2018 and the ministry is currently in discussion with various industry stakeholder regarding the same.

NTPC Limited is expected to produce 7.25 million tonnes (mt) of coal from its captive coal mines by the end of 2018-19, an increase of 170 per cent from 2.68 mt in 2017-18. The growth can be attributed to the significant increase in coal output at NTPC's Pakri Barwadih coal mine in Jharkhand to 6.75 mt in 2018-19 from 2.68 mt in 2017-18 and the start of production at the Dulanga coal mine in Odisha which is expected to produce 0.5 million tonnes. NTPC’s annual coal requirement stands at around 190 mt and a major part of it is met by Coal India Limited while small quantity is imported. In a separate development, NTPC has issued a tender for the operation and maintenance (O&M) of power evacuation system of 50 MW Rajgarh solar project in Madhya Pradesh for two years. The estimated cost of work is Rs 3.73 million. The last date for the submission of bids is April 1, 2019. The technical bids will open on April 3, 2019.

NTPC’s Karsada waste to energy Plant located at Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh has achieved full load generation capacity and is running optimally at 214.3 kW. The thermal gasification based pilot project has an installed capacity of 200 kW and utilizes 24 tonnes of waste per day to generate energy. The municipal solid waste is being supplied by the Varanasi Municipal Corporation. NTPC has signed a power purchase agreement (PPA) with Purvanchal Vidyut Vitaran Nigam Limited (PuVVNL) for sale of power from the plant.

NHPC Limited is planning to increase its installed capacity to 10 GW by 2022 from the present capacity of 7.07 GW. The company has planned a capex of Rs 38 billion for 2019-20. In 2018-19, the company has had a capex realisation of 70 per cent against the target of Rs 25 billion. In 2019-20, it plans to construct 200 MW of Greenfield hydropower units. Moreover, NHPC would also be an aggregator for buying power from stressed units and sell it to states. This arrangement would be for three years for the units which have coal supply but not power purchase agreements with any state.

CEA has issued a roadmap for flexible operation of thermal, gas and hydro power stations to facilitate the integration of renewable generation. It has been brought out considering renewable installed capacity of 175 GW to be achieved by 2021-22. CEA has considered hydro and gas generation flexing and two shift operations of old and small sized thermal units and also suggested to utilise existing pumped storage for optimisation of the power system.

State Sector

The Central Electricity Regulatory Commission has directed Gridco Limited to refund the adjusted amount (Rs 3.59 billion) within seven days of the date of the order or pay late payment surcharge as per the tariff regulations. The dispute is over NTPC’s alleged illegal declaration of commercial operation date (COD) and unauthorised billing worth Rs 3.59 billion of infirm power as scheduled power from the 1,320 MW its Barh Super Thermal Power Station Stage-II.

The Himachal Pradesh Electricity Regulatory Commission (HPERC) has issued the Rooftop Solar PV Grid Interactive System based on Net Metering Order, 2019. This order will apply to those domestic consumers who have a letter of approval to install rooftop solar PV grid-interactive systems based on net metering issued after November 15, 2018, and who have subsequently installed these systems. According to the regulation, the discom will compute the per kWh rate payable to domestic supply consumers for the energy credits at the close of the settlement. The rate will be equal to 30 percent of the weighted average per kWh rate at which the DISCOM has purchased power from the ground-mounted solar PV projects up to 5 MW capacity located in the state during the calendar year ending December 3.

Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (MSEDCL) is planning to modernise and augment distribution network to control frequent power faults affecting 40,000 consumers at Ghansoli in Thane, Maharashtra. Presently, the 20-year old 7 km 22 kV underground distribution line from Kalwa substation to Ghansoli via Airoli suburban railway station often suffers faults. Each major fault results in a 12-hour power cut. To overcome this, the discom plans to lay a 1.25 km-long distribution line from the substation around the erstwhile NOCIL at a cost of over Rs 10 million and construct a new substation.

Projects and Ventures

GE T&D India Limited has secured an order worth $21 million (Rs 1.5 billion) to execute a grid modernisation project by Rajasthan Rajya Vidyut Prasaran Nigam Limited (RRVPL) as part of the utility’s roadmap to implement grid initiatives and augment renewable energy in the state. As part of the utility’s Smart Transmission Network and Asset Management System (STNAMS), GE will implement the advanced energy management system that will provide real-time data acquisition and a decision support system to help in visualisation and situational awareness of the transmission grid. The RRVPNL-STNAMS project will have 535 substations remotely connected to the three control centers - the main control center in Jaipur, a back-up control center in Jodhpur and an additional regional center in Ajmer which will help in remote visualisation of power flow and asset health.

Debt and Equity

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has signed an agreement to invest $50 million in Avaada Energy Private Limited (AEPL) to help the company scale up photovoltaic solar energy generation capacity in India.The investment is expected to come equally from ADB’s Ordinary Capital Resources (OCR) and Leading Asia’s Private Sector Infrastructure Fund (LEAP). LEAP is a funding arrangement provided by Japan International Cooperation Agency, which is administered by ADB. Operational since 2017, AEPL is a leading developer of utility scale, rooftop, and off-grid solar projects. The company has secured power purchase agreements of about 1,700 MW. With the current equity investment, the company is well funded to exceed the capacity of 2 GW.

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