Hyderabad: Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao on Tuesday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to withdraw the Draft Electricity Amendment Bill, 2020, that goes against the spirit of federal polity since it seeks to snatch away powers of the State on various counts.

In a letter addressed to the Prime Minister, Chandrashekhar Rao, raising strong objections to the provisions in the proposed bill, said it would have an adverse impact directly on the management of State Electricity utilities. He listed out the various objectionable provisions including the authority to appoint State Electricity Regulatory Commission by a selection committee constituted by the Union government, making National Load Dispatch Centre (NLDC) all powerful with regard to power scheduling, allowing open access and Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) of subsidy to beneficiaries, among others.

The Chief Minister’s letter is in response to the Centre seeking the opinion of State government on the bill. In his letter, he said the proposed bill takes away certain powers of the State government. For instance, the provision to appoint State Electricity Regulatory Commission (SERC) by a selection committee constituted by the Centre and entrusting the responsibilities to a neighbouring SERC would hit the core of federal polity, which is enshrined in the Constitution, he said.

“We strongly oppose such tendencies where the Government of India or the Parliament enact laws which have a direct and major influence on the functioning of the State government, just because a particular subject is in the concurrent list,” the Chief Minister pointed out.

He further pointed out that any National Renewable Energy Policy should be formulated with explicit consent of the State governments, and not merely in consultation with the State governments. Each State in India has its unique situations like potential for hydro power, wind power, solar power and land availability, among other factors. As such, States should have the flexibility to determine within the broad policy at the national level without penal provisions.

The Chief Minister said the proposed amendment bill makes the NLDC all powerful with regard to scheduling of power throughout the country. Currently, merit order dispatch of energy is being implemented by Telangana State. “Though Grid discipline is very important, it is not advisable to entrust NLDC with additional powers, which will result in backing down State Thermal units,” he observed.

The State units will not be able to compete with Central generating stations. The cost of generation of the Central units such as NTPC, NHPC etc will be less and get priority in merit order dispatch causing loss to the State generating companies. Therefore, intra-State transmission should be left to the SLDC only. Further the proposed amendment seeks to give powers to NLDC to enforce payments security etc. Such commercial aspects should be left to the State Regulatory Commissions and civil courts as is being done currently, the Chief Minister said, adding that NLDC should deal only with technical issues like scheduling, grid stability etc.

Pointing out that the bill also proposed allowing Open Access freely, the Chief Minister argued that the facility will erode Discom’s revenue since several consumers with more than 1 MW can go for open access without even technical feasibility. Further, the sub-licensee may avail power from open access generators and sell it in the retail market, which will also affect the financial viability of the Discoms, he said.

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