Planning Commission pushes open access in power sector
V K Gupta | 07 Dec 2011

Planning Commission has approved the new guidelines proposed by Task Force on open access in Power Sector.

THE PLANNING Commission has pushed further open access in power sector.  Planning Commission has agreed to the suggestions of the Committee on Open Access and directed to finalize report expeditiously.

The inter-Ministerial Task Force on measures for Operationalising Open Access in the Power Sector was constituted on in  2008 under the chairmanship of  B.K. Chaturvedi, Member (Power),Planning Commission, pursuant to the decision taken by Empowered Sub-Committee of the Committee on Infrastructure.

The committee recommended that25 % of the Centre’s discretionary allocation of 15% of Central Power Sector Units (CPSU) generating capacity may be made available for direct sale to  open access consumers. As for new capacity of CPSUs, 50% of the unallocated quota may be reserved for sale to open access consumers. Prices for sale to open access consumers may be determined by bidding. The profits made by the CPSUs may be shared equally with the respective states where open access consumers are located.

 State Utilities shall provide power to Open Access consumers at negotiated rates, not regulated rates. To enable competing suppliers to use the distribution network on a level playing field, the tariff for distribution companies should clearly specify the energy charges and wheeling charges separately.  The distribution licenses shall inform all consumers of 1 MW and above that they can choose their electricity supplier from April 2009. 

State Electricity Regulators should ensure other enabling arrangements such as standby supplies at affordable prices, metering and settlement. Independent power producer’s captive and small generators should be allowed to bring power into the market without any hindrance in grant of open access.

 The state authorities should be advised to permit free sale of electricity and not compel generators to sell electricity to the SEB/Discom in the state except where a power purchase agreement exists.

 State Load Dispatch Centers (SLDCs) shall be upgraded in a time-bound manner to enable open access.  State Governments should be advised to set up SLDCs as independent entities with financial and operational autonomy. SLDCs should be upgraded in a time bound manner to enable open access.

The Central Government should not permit supplies from the unallocated central quota of CPSUs to be sold by a recipient state and/or its utilities outside the recipient state either directly or through an intra-State to deficit states at prices exceeding the regulated tariff and a margin of 4 paise per unit which is the permissible trading margin.

Many states like Haryana   felt that unless a long-term policy on open access was introduced, open access may not be viable. The Government of Haryana also stated that shortage of power supply and frequent outages and restrictions imposed in some States were the other main problems.