Escoms buying power at higher rate from farmers, JD(S) claims

Escoms buying power at higher  rate from farmers, JD(S) claims

Shady dealings have been alleged in the purchase of solar power by the State government. Electricity supply companies (Escoms) have decided to purchase power at Rs 8.40 per unit, discarding the standard procedure that limits the power procurement at Rs 6.90 per unit, the JD(S) has claimed.

JD(S) spokesperson Ramesh Babu has suggested that large-scale anomalies in the purchase would lead to the exchequer losing Rs 75-100 crore a year over a period of 25 years. The government has introduced a solar policy for the years 2014-21 to generate and purchase 2,000 megawatt (MW) of power. It appointed the Karnataka Renewable Energy Development Limited (KREDL) as the nodal agency to oversee the successful implementation of the project. Out of the 2,000 MW, farmers are to generate 300 MW which the government will purchase, Babu explained to reporters at a press conference here on Sunday.

As bidders had to quote the power tariff, they proposed rates ranging between Rs 6.92 per unit and Rs 7.10 per unit. The Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) was later sent to the Karnataka Electricity Regulatory Commission (KERC), which uploaded the information on its website on May 4, 2015.

It is a standard practice to choose the average of the price quoted by the companies but the KERC was “generous beyond the expectations” of the bidders. It offered Rs 8.40 per unit, according to Babu. “Based on the power cost, investment, comparative study with other states and expert opinions, Rs seven per unit was reasonable,” he said.

The KERC invited objections from the public and a hearing in this regard was held on June 8. “I was the only person to oppose Rs 8.40 per unit. I argued that Rs seven per unit was appropriate and as per the standard procedure.”

The JD(S) leader claimed that Escoms’ decision to purchase power at Rs 8.40 per unit would lead to a loss of Rs 73.95 crore per year. “As the government has agreed to buy power at this rate for 25 years, the total loss will be Rs 1,848.75 crore,” he claimed.

He has demanded that the KERC and the KREDL clear the anomalies at the earliest or else he would approach the Karnataka Lokayukta or the appropriate court.

Telangana, TN farmers bag contract too

Although the government intended to purchase power from farmers in Karnataka, five of the successful bidders are “farmers” from Telangana and Tamil Nadu.

“The tender process itself was faulty. When a large number of farmers in Karnataka didn’t know about the scheme, people from Telangana and Tamil Nadu got the contract,” said Ramesh Babu, the JD(S) spokesperson.

Within seven minutes of the tenders opening through the e-procurement portal, 250 applications came, of which 143 applications were finalised later. Sixty-five applications came from an IP (Internet Protocol) address of a college on Mysuru Road, Babu claimed and demanded that the Cyber Crime Cell probe the matter.

The scheme offers government guarantee for loan, deemed conversion of land for commercial purpose besides Central and State government incentives. Above all, the State government is duty bound to purchase power from farmers for the next 25 years. 

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