The Ministry of Power (MoP) recently issued a gazette notification on the Second Amendment of the Electricity Rules, 2023 (Promoting Renewable Energy Through Green Energy Open Access). The new notification allows the aggregation of load from multiple connections served by the same electricity division of a discom. This modification enables the telecom sector to actively engage in India’s commitment to green energy and sustainable growth by accessing renewable energy services through the open access route. Industry associations, particularly the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) and the Digital Infrastructure Providers Association (DIPA), have welcomed the move and consider it as a means for the telecom sector to meet its energy requirements in a more cost-effective manner, while also aligning with India’s green energy ambitions. T.R. Dua, director general, DIPA, and Lt Gen. Dr S.P. Kochhar, director general, COAI, share their views on the newly notified rules. Edited excerpts…
T.R. Dua, Director General, DIPA
The MoP has notified the second amendment to the Green Energy Open Access Rules, 2022. The new notified rules, named the Electricity (Promoting Renewable Energy Through Green Energy Open Access) (Second Amendment) Rules, 2023, aim to amend three provisions of the original rules published by the ministry in June 2022. The Green Energy Open Access Rules, 2022 empower power consumers with a minimum contracted annual power demand of 100 kW to access renewable energy services under the open access route. Under this, consumers that want to buy green power directly from producers can do so via the open access route.
This policy amendment is a long-standing demand of the telecom industry and it will help infrastructure providers in reducing their opex. Telecom tower sites operate on significantly lower power requirements, so allowing a cumulative power limit of 100 kW will enable telecom companies to purchase renewable power through open access at a more cost-effective rate. DIPA applauds the MoP for amending its policy to align with the needs of customers as well as technology requirements. DIPA also appreciates the efforts of the DoT and the National Broadband Mission for their continuous support for the telecom industry.
This is the second time the ministry has made revisions to the original rules. The ministry notified the first amendment on January 27, 2023, while the latest notification is dated May 23, 2023. The revised rules are effective from the date of their publication, that is, May 23, 2023.
Under the newly published rules, the ministry has changed the definition of “entities”. The new rules specify that the aggregate demand of green energy consumers can be met through a single connection or multiple connections.
As per the new rules, the term entity refers to any consumer that has a contracted demand or sanctioned load of 100 kW or more through multiple connections aggregating 100 kW or more, located in the same electricity division of a distribution licensee, with the exception of captive consumers. Captive consumers are not subject to any load limitations. Furthermore, captive consumers face no restrictions on the amount of green power they can obtain under open access. In the latest amendment, the ministry amended subrule 2 of the original rules to include the benefits of green energy generated from offshore wind power projects. As per the new rules, green energy open access consumers are not required to pay additional charges if the renewable energy is generated from offshore wind projects. The provisions will be applicable to all offshore wind projects commissioned up to December 2032. This is in contrast to the first amendment published in January this year, where the surcharges were waived for offshore wind projects commissioned up to 2025.
Lt Gen. Dr S.P. Kochhar, Director General, COAI
The MoP took a commendable step last year by reducing the consumption requirement limit for green energy from 1 MW to 100 kW. However, telecom towers, which serve as the backbone of the network, have individual power energy load requirements of approximately 10 kW each. Therefore, being treated as separate entities, telecom towers were unable to reap the benefits of green energy open access. After the notification of the second amendment by the MoP, any “entity” (meaning consumer) with a contracted demand or sanctioned load of 100 kW or more, either through a single connection or multiple connections aggregating 100 kW or more within the same electricity division of a distribution licensee, will be eligible to procure power through green energy open access. This will make it cost-effective for the telecom sector to meet its energy requirement while also contributing to the country’s green energy aspirations and renewable energy use targets.
We commend the MoP for introducing this much-needed progressive measure and also thank the secretary, MoP; chairman, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India; and DoT for their continuous support in addressing the power supply requirements for telecom infrastructure. This positive step recognises the importance of telecom as an essential infrastructure industry and its manifold benefits for the country and our citizens. The telecom industry remains committed to promoting sustainability and contributing to the country’s renewable energy goals.
Further, COAI believes that telecom players have been diligently working towards reducing their carbon footprint by deploying renewable energy solutions. This positive step will further enhance their efforts in achieving energy sustainability and reducing carbon emissions. COAI is committed to working closely with all stakeholders to facilitate the growth of the sector, ensuring nationwide connectivity while prioritising environmental sustainability as a crucial aspect of this endeavour.