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JSW Energy eyes stressed hydro assets; to revive Kuther project in Himachal Pradesh

   October 12, 2018        719        PTI

Sajjan Jindal-led JSW Energy is looking to acquire stressed hydro projects to increase its renewable energy portfolio, along with reviving its 240-megawatt (MW) Kuther hydro power project in the state.

The company at present has two operating hydro power projects with a total capacity of 1,300 MW in the state, which it had acquired from Jaiprakash Power Ventures for Rs 9,700 crore in FY16.

“We want to increase our hydro power portfolio and we are definitely looking at various opportunities including stressed hydro projects at present.

“We are evaluating a few of them in addition to reviving our own 240-MW Kutehr project,” the company’s chief operating officer (energy business), Sharad Mahendra, told reporters here.

The work on the Kutehr project was stalled eight years ago mainly due to lack of a favourable hydro policy and clarity on long-term power purchase agreement for the capacity.

Himachal Pradesh has come out with a hydro policy, which is enabling us to revive the project. We are hopeful of signing the long-term PPA with the Haryana government very soon,” he said.

Mahendra said the company has participated in the bids invited by the Haryana government for long-term PPA for 500 MW of hydro projects.

“We have participated in the bids and are hopeful that we will sign the agreement for our entire 240 MW capacity. Once the PPA is in place, we will be able to complete the project in four years, and the cost of construction would be around Rs 2,500 crore,” he said.

When asked whether the company was looking at a specific size of hydro projects in its total portfolio, he said, “There are many underconstruction projects and we will have to evaluate them on the basis of how much they are complete. Currently we are not looking at any specific project.”

The country’s hydro capacity is nearly 45,000 MW, out of which 3,200 MW is in the private sector, which includes 1,300 MW of JSW Energy alone. Nearly 10,000 MW of capacity is under various stages of construction and implementation.

JSW’s two operational project include the 300-MW Baspa-II hydroelectric plant and 1,000-MW Karcham Wangtoo plant.

“Since the time we have acquired the project, we have managed to increase the production as compared to the pre-acquisition time. Our plants have long-term PPAs of nearly 35 years with states like Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana and 40 years with Himachal Pradesh, and the average tariff is Rs 4.39 per unit,” said Mahendra.

He further said that at this average rate of tariff, it makes the sector more financially lucrative in the renewable segment, especially when there is uncertainty in the solar power space.

“Unlike solar, hydro is not just cheaper, but the power can be made available anytime. Though there is no substitute to thermal power, which is the primary source, hydro is a better, cleaner and a financially lucrative option,” added Mahendra.

JSW Energy presently has a total power generation capacity of 4,531 MW, which includes a thermal power capacity of 3,140 MW and hydro power of 1,300 MW.

The facility at Karcham-Wangtoo is a 1,000 MW run-of-the-river hydropower plant located on the Sutlej river in Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh, while the Baspa plant is located on the river Baspa, a tributary of the Sutlej.