Prashant Bhushan on Tata Adani case

NEW DELHI, April 11 India's top court ruled on Tuesday that Adani Power Ltd can not charge its customers more to cover a surge in the cost of imported coal, overturning a decision by a power regulator in December. The court asked the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission to go into the matter afresh and determine what relief should be granted to those power generators. It was argued that a rise in the price of Indonesian coal was unforeseen, inasmuch as the rise took place only in 2010 and 2011, while the PPAs were entered into, sometime in 2006 to 2008.

The tribunal, in April a year ago, had said that the two companies needed to be compensated as the change in Indonesian laws on coal export prices were outside the control of these companies.

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The case, which was argued by former Indian minister and lawyer Kapil Sibal and renowned anti-corruption lawyer Prashant Bhushan among others, was then escalated to the country's top court by the state distribution companies.

Following a legal battle that stretched over half a decade, the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) ruled in December previous year that the companies could charge their customers more to compensate for higher costs. In fact, even after taking into account the compensation of 40 paise per unit, Tata Power's tariff remains the lowest among all those who had originally bid for the Mundra plant. The two-judge bench set aside the APTEL and CERC rulings. Adani Power's 1,980 mw plant was allowed to raise power tariffs by 41 paise per unit in view of the steep increase in Indonesian coal prices. For Tata Power's Coastal Gujarat Power, the regulator had estimated a tariff relief at Rs 0.05 per unit based on the prices of coal and exchange rate prevailing in August 2015.

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Gujarat, Haryana, Punjab, Maharashtra and Rajasthan, there will be no hike in electricity bills. In any event, the fundamental basis of the PPAs between the parties was not premised on the price of coal imported from Indonesia. Similarly, it also obtained a contract from Haryana Utilities. In a report last month, brokerage JPMorgan said Tata Power shares would take a hit of Rs 15 from a price target of Rs 90 if the compensatory tariff was disallowed.

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