Himachal Pradesh has emerged as one of the most advanced State in the Country with excellent socio-economic indicators. The State is projected as a Power State in the Country. The total identified hydropower potential of the state is around 27,436 MW and the harnessable power potential is 23,750 MW, out of which, 10,781.88 MW has been harnessed.

Aiming at preserving the environment of the State, the Government intends to make Himachal Pradesh as first green energy state by the end of 2025 by harnessing hydro, hydrogen and solar energy and switching to green products which will enhance the premium and advantage in export. 

The state government is stressing refurbishing the present system and the focus is on harnessing green energy in the best interest of the State. To ease the norms, the Chief Minister has directed the officers to make necessary amendments in the existing power policy and open all the solar projects up to 5 MW capacities for allotment. The State Government will also invest in solar plants and will install 500 MW solar projects during the year 2023-24. Among these, 200 MW will be installed by Himachal Pradesh Power Corporation Limited (HPPCL) for which land has been identified for 70 MW capacity and the rest of the sites will be finalized soon.

Solar projects up to 150 MW capacity will be installed by HIMURJA through private participation and priority will be given to Himachali’s in awarding these projects. The capacity of the projects will range from 250 KW to 1 MW.

In order to ensure that the State also gets some financial benefits, the state government has directed HIMURJA to evolve a mechanism by seeking royalty of solar projects above 3 MW capacity. In the case of land being given to PSUs for developing solar projects, some percentage of land equity may be charged as well. 

CM Sukhu has directed HIMURJA to ensure a 5 per cent premium for the state in each solar power project up to 5 MW and a 10 per cent share in the solar power projects of more than 5 MW capacity.

HPPCL will also expedite the incomplete power projects like Kashang II and III, Shongtong and Karchham. The Chief Minister has stressed the need for fixing the timeline for each project and completing all these projects by 2025.

For this, the HPPCL will appoint a consultant for the preparation of the Detailed Project Report (DPR) and also to submit the report within a stipulated time so that the work on the solar projects could be started. The Department of Energy and HPPCL will identify sites in other States like Rajasthan etc. where the land is available at discounted rates for the installation of Mega Solar Plant.

The state government has also reviewed the progress of the Kishau Dam Project (660 MW) where the water component is being financed by the Government of India and the State in a ratio of 90:10 respectively and the Power component is to be shared 50-50 by Himachal and Uttrakhand States.

Himachal-based Public sector undertaking Sutlej Jal Vidyut Nigam Limited (SJVNL), a Centre-state entity, has also set a benchmark in the power generation sector and the plant availability factor of SJVNL is the highest in the country.

The Chief Minister has assured that the State Government will provide all possible support to SJVNL for developing of infrastructure for their upcoming power projects and stressed for an increase of power share of Himachal Pradesh in the power projects of SJVNL.

The state Government has received a dividend of Rs. 2355 crore against the equity contribution of Rs. 1055 crore and 12 per cent free power from Nathpa Jhakri and Rampur hydropower projects amounting to around Rs. 7000 crores so far and 22 per cent additional power at a bus-bar rate from Nathpa Jhakri Hydro Power Station (NJHPS) amounting to about Rs. 4200 crores has also been obtained.

Emphasizing on the use of emerging technology of power generation, a pilot plant on Green Hydrogen generation was underway at NJHPS, Jhakri. The solar module manufacturing plant at Parwanoo will also be set up by the SJVNL.

SJVNL is coming up with five Solar Power Projects (SPPs), in Himachal Pradesh including Thaplan, Solar Power Project of 112.5 MW in district Una. In addition to this, 20 MW  SPP Bhanjal and Kadh in Una district, 20 MW in Fatehpur in Kangra district, 30 MW SPP Kolar in Sirmaur district and 12.5 MW in Rajgir in district Kangra were under pre-construction stage.

The State Government is committed to extending all possible support to the executing agency for setting up these projects and necessary steps will be taken to amend the policy for the purchase of freehold private land in order to facilitate the company. The state government is aiming to increase the share of the State up to 12 per cent in upcoming solar power projects. A committee will be constituted under the Chairmanship of the Chief Secretary to monitor the execution of these power projects so that they could be completed within a stipulated time period.

The Chief Minister said that Himachal Pradesh State Electricity Board Limited (HPSEBL) and other line departments would certainly benefit from their expertise to make Himachal Pradesh a power State. Directions were also issued to  HPSEBL officers to reduce the maintenance time of machinery used in various power projects and it should be avoided in peak power generation season so that the efficiency of the power projects increases thereby generating more income.

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Rahul Bhandari is Editor of TheNewsHimachal and has been part of the digital world for last 15 years.