By Nageshwar Patnaik in Bhubaneswar, March 15, 2019: The Appellate Tribunal for Electricity (APTEL) in a significant verdict has upheld an order of the Central Electricity Regulatory commission (CERC) rejecting an appeal by the power utility major, National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) to collect Rs 360 crore from Grid Corporation of Odisha (GRIDCO) towards the energy bills earlier illegally collected by NTPC.

The issue relates to the declaration of the date of commercial operation (COD) of Unit IV of NTPC’s super thermal Barh Generating Station Stage II. As per CERC Tariff Regulations, 2014, a Generating Unit after its commissioning, has to successfully undergo Trial Run Test at Maximum Continuous Rating (MCR) or Installed Capacity (IC) for 72 Hours continuously for declaration of Commercial Operation Date for billing to beneficiaries.

Prior to Commercial Operation, the Energy injected by the Generator has to be billed at In-firm Power Rate and only after declaration of successful Commercial Operation (CoD) by the generator it can the bill the DISCOMs for the Scheduled Power at Electricity Tariff i.e. at (Fixed Cost + Variable Cost).

However, in this case, NTPC illegally declared commercial operation of Unit-IV of Stage-II of Barh Generating Station on 15.11.2014 without successfully running the Unit continuously for 72 Hours at MCR or IC. When GRIDCO detected the illegality by NTPC in declaring Commercial Operation, NTPC did not agree to the objection raised by GRIDCO. When NTPC was hesitant to repeat the Trial Run Test, as requested by GRIDCO, GRIDCO filed a Petition in CERC against the illegal declaration of CoD of the said Unit by NTPC.

CERC, after hearing the case passed the Order in the said Petition vide its order dated 20.09.2017 declaring 08.03.2016 as Date of Commercial Operation of the Unit, instead of 15.11.2014 and held that
“Power injected by Respondent No. 1 (NTPC) in respect of the Unit before 8.3.2016 shall be treated as infirm power even though power was scheduled by the beneficiaries during the period. The revenue earned over and above fuel cost from sale of infirm power from 15.11.2014 to 7.3.2016 shall be adjusted in the capital cost.”

Thereafter, the CERC adjusted Rs 360 crore towards the amount illegally collected from GRIDCO by NTPC from the Energy Bills of NTPC, when NTPC did not pay the same in spite of requests by GRIDCO. Incidentally, Bihar’s amount, arising out of the above Orders is much higher than GRIDCO to the extent of more than Rs 2000 crores, sources said.

NTPC now only has the last option to knock the doors of the Supreme Court, but Gridco sources made it very clear that the central PSU does not have any merit in the case.

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