“Cheaper power” was procured through long term agreements: Thangamani

Former Electricity Minister P. Thangamani on Saturday said that long-term power purchase agreements signed by the Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (TANGEDCO) with eight private suppliers during the previous AIADMK regime had provided for lower rates than those in other States.

Responding to Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG)’s observation on the power utility in a report for the year ending March 2018 that there had been an “avoidable expenditure” of ₹712.03 crore till 2018 following the signing of the agreements, Mr Thangamani, who held the portfolio during 2016-21, said the agreements had stipulated the price at ₹ 4.91 per unit whereas, in other States, the per unit rate was ₹ 5.5.

On the purchase of solar power at ₹ 7.01 per unit, , he said that in a few States, the unit cost was fixed even at ₹ 15. At one point of time, the per-megawatt cost for installing a solar power plant was ₹ 8 crore to ₹ 10 crore. But, now, it had come down to ₹ 3 crore. This was why solar power was being available at a cheaper rate than in the past. Besides, in Tamil Nadu, neither land nor fixed cost was being offered for putting up solar power plants whereas this was not the case in other States.

On the matter of the power utility suffering losses, the former Minister, who recalled how the CAG had criticised the working of the power utility during the DMK regime of 2006-11, argued that what was important was how a unit of power was being supplied to people and not the increase in revenue of the power utility. “Only in Tamil Nadu, all the domestic consumers are getting 100 units free of cost [bi-monthly] and farmers, three phase power supply free of cost for 24 hours.”

The country’s top audit institution would make adverse comments on the Central and State governments. “But this cannot be called irregularity,” he said.

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