MoP revises terms of reference of NCT to fast-track ISTS process

The Ministry of Power (MoP) has revised the terms of reference of National Committee on Transmission (NCT) to fast-track Inter State Transmission System (ISTS) planning and approval process.  This revision is expected to ease the development and integration of renewable energy projects into the power system. NCT is mandated to propose expansion of ISTS to the MoP for approval after assessing the trend of growth in demand and generation in various regions, constraints, if any, in the inter-state, inter-region transfer of power, which are likely to arise in the near term/ medium term.

India had pledged in COP-21 in Paris to reduce its carbon footprint by 33-35 per cent from its 2005 levels by 2030 and meet 40 per cent of its electricity needs from non-fossil fuel sources by then. India has set a target of 450 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2030 as part of its energy transition goals.

Unlike conventional electricity generation projects, which has long gestation period, renewable energy generation projects needs about 18 months for commissioning, while transmission system needs 18-24 months for commissioning.  As a result, there was a need to expedite the transmission planning and approval procedure in order to reduce the gap between ISTS and renewable energy project commissioning. For enabling growth of renewable energy capacity, areas which have high solar/wind energy potential, as identified by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), need to be connected to ISTS, so that renewable energy capacity can be set up there. All ISTS systems are currently approved by the MoP based on NCT recommendations.

Responsibility to approve ISTS projects worth up to Rs 5 billion has been delegated to expedite approval. CTU will now approve ISTS growth proposals up to Rs 1 billion, while NCT will approve proposals costing between Rs 1 billion and Rs 5 billion. A proposal worth more than Rs 5 billion will be approved by the MoP. There were two regional committees that had to be consulted separately throughout the ISTS planning and approval process, namely the Regional Power Committee (RPC) and the Regional Power Committee (Transmission Planning) (RPC-TP), which caused the ISTS planning and permission procedure to be delayed.

RPC-TP has been dissolved, and the scope of reference of the RPC has been adjusted to facilitate regional consultation in the ISTS planning and approval process, in order to eliminate duplication in regional consultation and to shorten the planning process. It has been stipulated that the CTU, after consultation with RPC, will present a proposal for ISTS growth to the NCT for consideration. Prior consultation with RPC is not necessary for proposals under Rs 5 billion. The NCT will propose ISTS enlargement after considering the CTU’s recommendations and the opinions of the RPCs. The NCT will assess the cost of the proposed ISTS scheme and develop implementation packages for the proposed transmission schemes. NCT meetings will be held every quarter, and if necessary, monthly.



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