The Maharashtra government is yet to learn its lessons from the Enron fiasco. The new controversy brewing in the power sector is the wind energy scam. Over the past four years, nearly 900 privately-owned wind-powered power generation plants have sprung up in Maharashtra. But at the heart of this sudden interest in renewable energy seems to be yet another mammoth giveaway in the tainted power sector. Sops worth an estimated Rs 4,500 crore have been lavished on the private windmill sector in the state. And what does Maharashtra get in return? Power worth a measly Rs 10 crore, less than 1 per cent of the state's consumption.
Like Enron, a tariff has now been announced for the purchase of wind energy by the Maharashtra State Electricity Board (MSEB) which, critics allege, does not factor in the huge state subsidies already being given to the plants. According to the September 18 order of the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (merc), wind energy from subsidised plants already in operation will cost Rs 3.24 per unit and this tariff will escalate by 11 paise each year for a period of eight years from the commissioning date. This is even higher than the Rs 2.80 per unit quoted for reviving the Enron power plant at Dabhol.