Wednesday, July 5, 2017

GMR to sell Upper Karnali electricity to Bangladesh

GMR Upper Karnali Hydropower is planning to sign a power purchase agreement (PPA) with the Bangladeshi government.
GMR Upper Karnali Hydropower – a subsidiary of GMR Energy India – is preparing to sign grid connection agreement with Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB) and Haryana Power Generation Corporation (HPGC) to sell at least 300 megawatts (MW) to each.
A team from the Bangladeshi government is likely to visit the project site in western Nepal soon and start PPA negotiations with the developer.
"We have already signed the memorandums of understanding (MoUs) with them,” said chief operating officer of Hydro Business of GMR Energy Harvinder Manocha. "After BPDB and HPGC sign power purchase agreement with us, we will be able to obtain loans for financial closure."
The GMR Upper Karnali Hydropower is close to achieving financial closure.
GMR Energy India – the developer of the 900 MW Upper Karnali Hydroelectric Project – will evacuate energy produced by the project to Bangladesh via India.
Bangladesh signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with India’s NTPC Vidyut Vyapar Nigam (NVVN) to import electricity from Upper Karnali via India during Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to India in April 2017. "The tariff rate will be mutually finalised by GMR and Bangladesh after negotiations."
According to GMR, as Indian laws don’t allow private developers to export electricity produced in third countries over Indian transmission lines, Bangladesh signed a MoU with the state-owned cross-border electricity trading agency while GMR was the witness. "It is clearly written in the MoU that the energy that NVVN will supply to Bangladesh will come from Upper Karnali."
Manocha said that some international lenders have shown interest to provide loan for GMR’s Upper Karnali project as the developer is gearing up to sign PPA for 600 MW of the energy out of installed capacity of 900 MW. Developer has to achieve financial closure within the deadline of September 18, 2017 given by the Investment Board Nepal (IBN).
"Everything is moving ahead smoothly," he said, adding that the company wants to develop Upper Karnali as a regional project. "It will be a model project for foreign investors willing to come to Nepal."
When the project development agreement (PDA) was signed in September 2014, the cost of the 900-MW project was expected to hover around $1.03 billion. However, the developer believes that cost could escalate to $1.5 billion.
GMR has also shortlisted the bidders for civil and electromechanical works and bidders will be finalised soon. Once the project begins construction, around 5,000 people are expected to get employment opportunity. Nepal will receive 27 per cent free equity and 12 per cent free energy from Upper Karnali project.
Apart from that, Nepali suppliers of construction materials will also stand to benefit, according to the developer that had been given seven years to conclude the construction. The project must be handed over to the government after 25 years from the date of power commissioning, according to the PDA.
Despite all these positive developments, the project is facing a major roadblock from the Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation as it recently introduced a new guideline ‘Utilisation of Forest Area by National Priority Projects’, which requires ‘land to land’ compensation for the utilisation of land in the forest area.
Earlier, the ministry was willing to provide 5,000 ropanis of government land for nominal lease fees and sought compensation for land area where permanent structures like dam, power house would be built. The developer is going to purchase 1,000 ropanis of private land in Dailekh and Achham districts.
On the other hand, as per the new forest rules, the developer needs to plant 25 saplings in another area of similar topography for chopping every tree for the project and nurture the saplings for five years.
The developer has complained about the recent stringent forest rules to the government. Private sector developers have also been urging the government to respect the PDA as a bilateral document and ensure policy stability for the development of the power sector.

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