February 17: The government has decided to provide relief to the hydropower projects affected by Covid-19. In this regard, the government has agreed to extend the survey license of the projects, power purchase agreement and also the deadline for financial closure.
The government had formed a committee headed by Joint Secretary of the Ministry of Energy, Water Resources Madhu Prasad Bhetwal to conduct a study for providing relief to the hydropower projects affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. Based on the report submitted by the committee on November 12, the Ministry of Energy decided to allocate relief to the Covid-19-affected hydropower projects last week. Joint Secretary Bhetwal informed that the ministerial-level meeting made the decision to provide relief to the Covid-19 affected projects.
Under the relief package, the government has decided to extend the time period of the survey license by one year from the date of the agreement. To extend the license period, the government has decided to amend the Electricity Act, 2049 BS. The period of survey license in the Act is five years. According to Bhetwal, it has been decided to amend the Act to extend the timeframe.
Some projects are in the fifth year of the survey. They also could not complete the survey because of Covid-19. In such case, the Act itself is being amended as the provision in the Act is not in line with the extension of the survey period. The ministry informed that the maximum duration of the survey will now be six years in the Act.
The committee also recommended policy-level, procedural and administrative reforms targeting hydropower projects affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The government has also decided to extend the power purchase agreement (PPA) and financial closure of the projects by one year.
The Department of Power Development is authorized to implement these decisions.
Due to the lockdown, the promoters of the projects could not apply for the survey, renewal of survey license, production and transmission license, and extension of financial closure deadline and power purchase agreement.