The West Bengal Department of Power (DOP) plans to launch a penalty clause on power distribution companies failing to source and wheel out at least 10% of the power distributed from renewable sources. Currently, a distribution company has to source at least 4.8% of power from renewable energy sources. The government has not launched any penalty clause since the state does not generate the necessary volume for these utilities of source.

Talking to reporters on the sidelines of the 18th International Photovoltaic Science & Engineering Conference & Exhibition (PVSEC), state power minister Mrinal Banerjee said: We plan to increase the minimum volume of renewable power that a distributor mandatorily needs to source and wheel to consumers from 4.8% now to 10% in the next three years.

As the minimum level is raised to 10%, the state is likely to introduce a penalty clause in case utilities fail to source the minimum required from renewable energy sources, said Mr S P Gon Choudhury, special secretary, West Bengal power department.

West Bengal State Electricity Distribution Co (WBSEDCL) wheels about 20,000 million units per year. But it is unable to even meet the statutory 4.8% requirement (read: 960 million units) due to paltry renewable energy linked generation levels. However, with Rs 5000 crore of investments expected to flow into the state’s renewable energy sector, generation capacity from renewable sources is slated to rise to meet the higher 10% requirement by 2012. It is estimated that the demand for power by 2012 will touch 26,000 mw while generation from renewable sources is slated to be at least 2600 mu by that time, said Gon Choudhury.

As generation capacity from green sources becomes sufficient, we will implement the penalty clause in case utilities do not source at least 10% of power supplied to consumers, from renewable sources, Gon Choudhury added.

West Bengal is one of the states that has announced a policy for solar energy, where the government pays Rs 10 per unit of power generated from solar energy, and that is the reason for so many private companies have shown interest in setting up units in the state.

The state has already attracted a total investment of Rs 4000 crore in the solar power segment all of which is slated to go on stream by 2012. Of this, about Rs 2,600 crore have been in the solar equipment manufacturing segment including solar photovoltaic cells and modules. The investment has come from companies like Bhaskar Polysilicon (Rs 2000 crore), Vikram Solar (Rs 200 crore) and Webel SL Energy (Rs 100 crore) . The balance has gone into setting up of 30mw solar energy generation capacity from companies like Videocon Industries, Astonfield, Hyderabad-based Titan group of industries, said Gon Choudhury.