Gujarat’s government has responded to calls for a deadline extension from project developers working within its solar programme by moving the completion date back to January 28.
Under the terms of the original agreement, by failing to meet the original deadline of December 31, 2011, developers forfeited the right to the preferential payment rates offered by the state’s scheme. However, when it became apparent that only a smattering of projects would meet this cut-off date, installers campaigned to have it extended; in December the state regulator held hearings with at least 45 developers.
While the revised deadline will enable more systems to qualify for the state’s generous tariff of INR15 (US$0.28) per kWh, many others are well behind schedule and unlikely to be completed in time. Those that miss out are set to receive a tariff rate reduced by as much as 32%, according to a draft proposal on the Gujarat Electricity Regulatory Commission’s website.
When its solar programme was launched back in 2009, Gujarat’s aim was to install systems totalling more than 900MW by the end of 2011 via a project tender. Among the developers to successfully bid for projects – each of which was required to submit a non-refundable deposit of INR5 million for each MW they intended to install – were Adani Power, Lanco Infratech and Tata Power.
Although some developers, including Azure Power India, Moser Baer and Green Infra, managed to complete their projects on time, delays caused by legislative red tape, inclement weather and financial problems have blighted the progress of many others.
Astral Power, which is building a 25MW thin-film plant, claims that it was only awarded a development site on October 2 after the location was changed three times by authorities. This delayed equipment delivery until late December and, in turn, prevented Astral from obtaining a letter of credit from lenders. Similar predicaments faced Inspira Infrastructure and Surana Group for their 15MW and 5MW plants.