Punjab and Haryana HC bench to hear plea against HPPC on solar power purchase from private company as PIL

Written by Jagpreet Singh Sandhu
| Chandigarh |

October 17, 2020 11:20:29 pm

Punjab and haryana hc, Haryana Power Purchase Centre, HPPC, HPPC hc petition, HPPC solar power purchase, indian express newsAdvocate Sharma further contended before the HC that even under the Electricity Act, 2003, the State Electricity Regulatory Commission is obliged to take into account the interest of the consumers. (File)

HEARING A petition seeking to quash a decision of the Haryana Power Purchase Centre (HPPC) to purchase solar power from a Gurgaon-based private company, Amplus Sun Solutions, through negotiation mode, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has ordered the petition to be heard as a Public Interest Litigation (PIL).

The petitioners, Monika Sharma, Manoj Tyagi and Satish Chand, through their counsel advocate Tushar Sharma, have sought to quash HPPC’s decision to purchase solar power from Amplus Sun Solutions through negotiation mode and the consequent order passed on September 14, 2020, by Haryana Electricity Regulatory Commission (HERC) terming it to be manifestly arbitrary, illegal, unjustified, irrational, unreasonable, and biased as well as contrary to the provisions of the Electricity Act, 2003.

Advocate Sharma further contended before the HC that even under the Electricity Act, 2003, the State Electricity Regulatory Commission is obliged to take into account the interest of the consumers, but with the commission not having actually considered the interest of the consumers, Amplus Sun Solutions has been allowed to charge the consumers higher amounts than may be charged by an equally competitive company.

The counsel submitted before the bench that on September 9 this year, HPPC filed a petition before HERC seeking approval for purchase of 50 MW solar power from Amplus for 25 years, at a tariff to be determined later and this was permitted on September 14 by HERC. The tariff at which power would be purchased has not yet been determined, which means that HPPC decided to purchase power for 25 years without knowing in advance as to how much would that cost it.

It was further contended that the Haryana Solar Power Policy, 2016, was issued by state of Haryana and the only mode for procurement of solar power provided thereunder is through competitive bidding process, the policy does not provide for purchase of solar power through negotiations or any other mode and mandates that HPPC would purchase solar power only by inviting bids and even setting up a new solar power plant for supply of power to HPPC has to be done through the competitive bidding process.

The petitioners thus have also sought directions to HPPC, Uttar Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam Limited (UHBVNL) and Dakshin Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam Limited (DHBVNL) to strictly adhere to the provisions contained in the National Tariff Policy, 2016 and Haryana Solar Policy, 2016, and consequently, procure solar power only through the competitive bidding mode.

The bench of Justice Amol Rattan Singh after hearing to the matter, ordered, “…though the petitioners may be directly affected by the action of the commission and the other respondents, and may therefore have locus standi in the matter, however, as they are not the only ones who may be affected, with the service to be provided by respondent no.5 (Amplus Sun Solutions) affecting the public at large in the entire state of Haryana, this petition still ‘qualifies’ to be treated as public interest litigation…”

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