Tata Power has picked up 51 per cent stake in the first transmission project in the country, which was thrown open for private participation by the government.
The Mumbai-based power utility is expected to sign the shareholders’ agreement soon. The 1500-km, 400 KV Tala Transmission Project, which will cross three regions — north-east, east and north — is expected to cost around Rs 1,200 crore and would be operational by '04-05.
The only other pre-qualified bidder was National Grid of UK. The transmission line will evacuate power from the Tala hydroelectric project in Bhutan to Delhi.
"This is India’s first transmission project, and we at Tata Power are happy to bag this prestigious project. We will bid for every transmission project where the government would invite private participation," said Adi Engineer, managing director of Tata Power.
RP Singh, chairman and managing director of PowerGrid Corporation of India, said that discussions with Tata Power were at a final stage, and the shareholders’ agreement would be signed soon. PowerGrid will hold the remaining 49 per cent stake in the joint venture.
"The transmission lines will have a capacity to carry around 3,000 MW of power. The lines would primarily evacuate power from Tala project in Bhutan, and will also carry surplus electricity from the north-eastern states to the power-deficit northern belt. The lines will also be used to carry electricity from Nepal, where potential for hydro-electric projects are being explored," said Singh.
The ambitious 1,020-MW Tala Hydro Power Project, for which a bilateral agreement was signed between India and Bhutan, is expected to be operational by '04-05.
Its commission would be synchronised with the transmission line. The power project is being funded by the government of India — 60 per cent as grant and 40 per cent as loan — under the bilateral agreement.
The Tala Transmission Project is expected to have a debt-equity ratio of 80:20. Tata Power is planning to fund the project mostly by internal accruals, according to Mr Engineer.
"Tata Power had recently taken over the transmission division of Tata International. This division, experienced in setting up huge transmission projects, would help the company in pursuing various transmission projects in the country," he said.
While Tata Power is aggressively going ahead with its transmission plans, National Grid of the UK has decided to stay out of the eight private transmission projects put up for bidding by PowerGrid.
"There are many transmission projects in which we have invited expression of interest. A major one is a transmission project in Madhya Pradesh. The Rs 450-crore project will be 100-per cent owned by a private player," said Singh.