The National Committee on Transmission (NCT) in its recent meeting has recommended the de-notification of a power transmission scheme in Himachal Pradesh, as the committee expected significant delay in the commissioning of the underlying power generation projects.
The transmission scheme in question is officially known as “Grant of Connectivity and Long Term Open Access to HPPCL – 450 mw Shangtong Karcham HEP.” The scheme involved creation of power evacuation infrastructure for the upcoming 450-mw Shangtong Karcham hydropower project of state utility Himachal Pradesh Power Corporation Ltd. The transmission scheme, estimated to cost around Rs.272 crore, sought to create a 400kV double-circuit line from Shongtong Karcham to Wangtoo. The line, equipped with quad HTLS conductor would transmit around 3,000 mw on each of the two circuits. Besides, there would be two 400kV line bays at Wangtoo. The transmission project was to come up under the tariff-based competitive bidding (TBCB) route.
The reason why this project has been denotified is that the 450-mw Shangtong Karcham HEP is now expected to commission by December 2023 as against its original schedule of September 2021. Besides, no major hydropower project upstream of Shangtong Karcham is expected till as late as 2030.
It is interesting to note that PFC Consulting Ltd (a subsidiary of Power Finance Coporation, the bid process coordinator) had already completed the bidding process and in fact, Essel Infra Projects Ltd was finalized as the successful bidder and was also issued the letter of intent (LoI) in February 2018. However the special purpose vehicle of the transmission project—Shangtong Karcham Wangtoo Transmission Ltd—could not be transferred to Essel for want of regulatory approval for the transmission scheme. The SPV of the scheme now stands closed.
The next step
With the transmission scheme now scrapped, it has been decided that HPPCL, the developer of the Shangtong Karcham hydropower project, will set up a transmission scheme from the project site (Shangtong Karcham) to Wangtoo, as a dedicated line, with due approval from CERC. As a corollary, the Central Transmission Utility (CTU) will revoke the connectivity approval granted to HPPCL and, in turn, HPPCL will now apply for connectivity to the State Transmission Utility.
Reimbursement of expenses
PFC, the bid process coordinator, is learnt to have incurred considerable expenditure in carrying out the bidding exercise. Now that the scheme is cancelled, it has no way to recover the monies spent. When PFC pointed out to NCT that there should be a mechanism to recover the expenses incurred, NCT advised PFC to take up the matter directly with the ministry of power.
(Featured photograph is for illustration only)