Power Ministry revises terms of reference of NCT to fast-track ISTS process


New Delhi: As one more step in the series of major reforms being carried out in the power sector under the direction of the Union Power Minister, Shri R. K. Singh, the Ministry of Power 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 will go a long way in further facilitating Renewable Energy development and integration in the power system.

NCT is mandated to propose expansion of ISTS to Ministry of Power 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. NCT is headed by Chairperson, Central Electricity Authority and comprising of representatives of Ministry of New & Renewable Energy, Ministry of Power, NITI Aayog, Central Transmission Utility, Power System Operation Corporation and two experts.

Our country has pledged in COP-21 in Paris to reduce its carbon footprint by 33-35% from its 2005 levels by 2030 and meet 40% of its electricity needs from non-fossil fuel sources by then.As a part of energy transition goal, India has set a target of 450 GW of Renewable Energy capacity by 2030. Unlike conventional electricity Generation, which has long gestation period, Renewable Energy Generation needs about 18 months of time for commissioning, while transmission system needs 18-24 months for commissioning. Accordingly, the need for fast tracking the transmission planning and approval process was felt so as to minimise the mismatch between ISTS commissioning and RE commissioning.

For enabling growth of Renewable Energy (RE) capacity, areas which have high solar/wind energy potential, as identified by Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), need to be connected to ISTS, so that RE capacity can come up there. This is a national mission as a part of our energy transition goal. The revision in terms of reference of NCT will help in timely developing the required ISTS system for having 450 GW of Renewable Energy by 2030.

Presently, all ISTS systems are approved by Ministry of Power based on recommendation of NCT. To-expedite approval of ISTS, power to approve ISTS projects costing uptoRs 500 crore have been delegated. Now, the proposal of expansion of ISTS uptoRs 100 cr will be approved by CTU and the proposal costing between Rs 100 crore and Rs 500 crore will be approved by NCT. Ministry of Power will approve proposal costing more than Rs 500 crore.

In the ISTS planning and approval process, there were two regional committees namely Regional Power Committee (RPC) and Regional Power Committee (Transmission Planning) (RPC-TP) which had to be consulted separately, which delayed the process of planning and approval of ISTS.  In order to avoid duplication in regional consultation and to reduce the time taken for planning process, RPC-TP has been dissolved and term of reference of RPC is being modified to facilitate regional consultation in ISTS planning and approval process.It has been provided that CTU after consulting RPC shall submit the proposal for expansion of Inter State Transmission System to the NCT for their consideration. For proposal uptoRs. 500 crores, prior consultation with RPC would not be required.

After considering the recommendations of the CTU and views of the RPCs, the NCT shall propose expansion of ISTS. NCT shall examine the cost of the proposed ISTS scheme, and formulate the packages for the proposed transmission schemes for their implementation. NCT meetings are to be held every quarter, and monthly, if required.

In a series of major reforms carried out earlier on the direction of the Hon’ble Union Power Minister, Shri R. K. Singh, the Ministry had separated the Central Transmission Utility from POWERGRID to provide transparency and a level playing field in the bids for transmission; reduced the lock-in period for transmission projects in order to attract investments and more competition; and promulgated the Rules for General Network Access – which radically simplified the process of getting connectivity to the ISTS network.  Thereafter the Ministry issued the Right of Consumer rules, which empower consumers and rules laying down the ceiling for late payment surcharge.

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