Appellate Tribunal for Electricity (APTEL): The Coram of Manjula Chellur (Chairperson) and Ravindra Kumar Verma, Technical Member (Electricity) allowed an appeal which was filed against the Order of Karnataka Electricity Regulatory Commission (Commission) whereby, the Commission has held that the Applicant/Appellant was not entitled to extension of time for commissioning of solar power project in terms of the Power Purchase Agreement and Supplementary power Purchase Agreement.

Two applications, one for condonation of delay in re-filing the Appeal and the other for condonation of delay in filing the Appeal were filed.

The Applicant/Appellant submitted that during the pendency of the petition before the Commission, the Solar Power Developers (SPD) had formed an Association i.e., “Land Owned Farmers Solar Power Plants, Karnataka” with the aim of addressing the grievances of the SPD’s who were all part of the Land Owning Farmer scheme introduced by the State of Karnataka and he was the member of the said association. After the impugned order was passed on 28-08-2018, the said Association followed up the matter with the Central and State Governments seeking their intervention in the matter as the Commission had reduced the tariff to Rs.4.36/- from Rs.8.40/- in a few of the petitions disposed by the Commission. The Applicant/Appellant further submitted that he approached a Chennai based Advocate, who took five months time to look into the matter i.e., from September 2018 to January 2019. The said Advocate first suggested to file first appeal and later suggested to file a review petition before the Commission with other documents. Thereafter, he approached Advocate in Bangalore to file a review petition before the Commission, which again took two months of time. Finally, on 08.03.2019, when the Applicant/Appellant approached the Bangalore based Senior Advocate, he was advised by the Senior Advocate to file an appeal before this Tribunal instead of the review petition before the Commission. Thereafter, it took four months time to prepare the appeal and to procure additional documents as suggested by the Advocate. Appeal was finalised, on 27-07-2019 the appeal was sent to the practicing advocate in New Delhi, who filed the appeal before this Tribunal on 23-08-2019. The delay in filing the appeal was explained as above.

The Tribunal observed that this was not an Appeal against rejection of total claim of the Appellant. According to Appellant, on account of reason of force majeure, i.e. reasons beyond the control of the applicant/Appellant, there was delay in filing the Appeal, since they were hoping to get a favourable response from the authorities to resolve the problems faced by the Appellant like other project proponents.

The Tribunal noticed that since the power plant of the Appellant was commissioned with some delay, which according to Appellant amounts to force majeure, there is reduction of tariff that was agreed to be paid in terms of PPA. The Tribunal was of the opinion that delay of 106 days in re-filing as well as 315 days in filing the Appeal can be condoned. The Tribunal set aside the impugned order stating that no prejudice would be caused to the parties as the matter will ultimately be decided on merits.[Anjinamma v. Bangalore Electricity Supply Co. Ltd., DFR No. 2267 of 2019 & IA Nos. 1592 & 1594 of 2019, decided on 16-07-2021]

Suchita Shukla, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

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