Capex not a matter of concern for POWERGRID
Transmission holds the key to ensuring seamless transfer of electricity across the country and so its importance cannot be overstated. State-owned POWERGRID remains the backbone of the country’s interstate power transmission, notwithstanding the government’s growing focus on attracting private investment. POWERGRID Chairman and Managing Director, IS JHA, shares with EPC World, his company’s business plans. Excerpts:
How much investment sanctions have been granted by the POWERGRID board of directors against the envisaged capex target?
For 2016-17, POWERGRID has set CAPEX target of ` 22,000-23,000 crore. During the first two months of this financial year, POWERGRID board has approved projects at an estimated cost of Rs. 22,508 crore. This includes a very significant 6,000 MW HVDC bipole from Raigarh-Pugalur and further extended to Kerala with State-of-the-Art technology at an estimated cost of Rs. 14,700 crore and Green Energy Corridor Part-D project of about Rs. 3,520 crore.
How much progress has been achieved in introduction of Smart Grid technology upgrade by POWERGRID?
POWERGRID has taken pioneering steps in introduction of Smart Grid technology in the Indian Power sector to bring efficiency and improve reliability. Towards this, installation of Phasor Measurement Units (PMUs) at more than 1200 locations at all the EHV substations across the country is under implementation. This is also the first time any country is doing it in such a big way, which is an on-going exercise that will be completed in a progressive manner within the next one year.
The Union Power Ministry has not unveiled its generation capacity addition programme for period beyond March 2017. In the absence of clear signal, how will you chalk up your capex plans?
To meet future electricity requirement, renewable would be playing a significant role and Govt. of India has set an ambitious target of establishment of 175 GW renewable capacity, which includes 100 GW solar, 60 GW wind and 15 GW of other types of Renewable Generation. In this direction, more than 34 solar parks in 21 states have been identified. Transmission system for evacuation of
generation from these solar parks are being identified and the government has asked POWERGRID to establish required transmission system for about 7,200 MW solar parks at NP Kunta (Andhra Pradesh), Rewa (Madhya Pradesh), Pavagada (Karnataka), Badla(Rajasthan), Neemuch & Agar (MP), Banaskantha (Gujarat) etc. Transmission is a vital element of the entire power value chain. It acts as an enabler to evacuate power from various generating stations and also facilitates transfer of power as per requirement through market mechanism. Accordingly, there are
number of system strengthening schemes planned to augment the whole grid. For example, we have developed 11 high capacity power transmission corridors criss-crossing the entire country as system strengthening. Such type of lines shall facilitate power transfer from one place to another creating vibrant electricity market and enable access to cheap power sources. Towards this, number of system strengthening schemes is planned for implementation by POWERGRID. In addition, POWERGRID has bagged several transmission projects through competitive bidding. So, there are enough projects and planning for CAPEX is not a matter of concern.
Are you undertaking technological upgrade of existing sub-stations?
Technology integration is the key for a sustainable development. Towards this, to optimize land requirement for establishment of sub-stations (touch points in the grid), POWERGRID is adopting high capacity 765 kV AC system, GIS substations in urban areas, conversion of existing substation into a digital substation using process bus technology, sub-station automation & remote operation etc.
How has been your experience with 1200kV HVAC technology?
POWERGRID has taken initiative and indigenously developed 1200kV Ultra High Voltage (UHVAC) technology in a collaborative manner. Under this project, POWERGRID has successfully established the 1200 kV UHVC test station at Bina in Madhya Pradesh. In this R&D initiative, at present flow of power through 1200/400 kV transformers, 1200 kV single & double circuit transmission lines are under observation. After necessary testing and monitoring, the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) will take a call on replicating this technology in various parts of the country. This has attracted the attention of international standardization utilities and professional bodies like CIGRE & IEC. Nevertheless, construction of 1200 kV upgradable transmission line from Wardha to Aurangabad (approx. 350 km length, to be initially charged at 400 kV) is also underway and will be charged at rated voltage subsequently after field experiments.
POWRGRID is blamed for underinvestment in the Indian transmission sector. What you have to say on that?
It is factually incorrect. We have planned Rs. 1.1 lakh crore CAPEX for the 12th plan, out of which more than Rs. 88,200 crore has already been achieved in first 4 years of this plan. During this period, POWERGRID has added about 36,000ckm EHV transmission lines and about 131,000 MVA transformation capacities, out of which 13,400 ckm & 23,300 MVA was added during last financial year which is about 50% of overall transmission capacity addition in the country. For the 2016-17, we have set our CAPEX target to be Rs. 22,000-23,000 crore. POWERGRID has commissioned a record number of projects worth Rs. 31,788 crore in the just-concluded fiscal (2015-16), which is the highestever commissioning achieved by the company in its history.
Do you think CERC regulation provides enough incentives for investment in the transmission sector?
Transmission is a regulated business and POWERGRID’s revenue is governed by CERC norms. As per CERC regulation, POWERGRID gets 15.5% return on equity (ROE) and an additional 0.5% ROE for timely completion of projects. For the operation and maintenance of
transmission system, POWERGRID gets incentive for maintaining more than 98.5% availability.
What is the progress on development of SAARC grid? What is the next project that you are going to implement?
As far the SAARC grid is concerned, POWERGRID is already having interconnections with Bhutan, Nepal & Bangladesh. Last year, we commissioned one HVDC+AC transmission link interconnecting India and Bangladesh grid, second transmission link to Nepal. This year,
we established two new international inter-connections - one with Nepal i.e. Muzaffarpur (India) - Dhalkebar (Nepal) transmission line and the other with Bangladesh i.e. Suryamaninagar (Tripura) - Comilla (Bangladesh) transmission line.
What is the progress on implementation of Green Energy Corridor project?
Green Energy Corridors includes development of Inter-State and Intra-State transmission system. Inter-State system is already under implementation by POWERGRID and Intra-State system is being implemented by respective state utilities.