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Industry News

Indian State Must Refund $22.3 Million to Power Company

LCG, Oct. 1, 2001--The Supreme Court of the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh has ordered the state's electricity supply board to refund a security deposit made by Korean firm Daewoo Power Co. in July 1998, the Economic Times reported this morning from New Delhi.

In what the paper called "a major decision that could set a precedent in the ongoing wrangle between state electricity boards and independent power producers," the Madhya Pradesh State Electricity Board was ordered to refund 1.07 billion rupees ($22.3 million U.S.) to the Korean firm within three months.

The MPSEB had been resisting refunding the amount even though it was bound to do so by an agreement to return the money on termination of the power purchase agreement. Daewoo Power terminated the power purchase agreement in August in August of last year after the MPSEB changed the conditions for giving a bankable escrow cover to the power project.

Now, the MPSEB contends that it is not in a position to refund in the money as it had pledged the fixed deposit receipts created from the security money to State Bank of India to secure overdraft facilities.

Daewoo Power's problem with MPSEB dates back to 1998 when the state-run utility decided unilaterally to reallocate the escrow covers given to Daewoo Power and four other power projects in December 1997. The MPSEB required Daewoo to give a security deposit of 2 per cent of the $1.12 billion project cost as guarantee that the company would achieve financial closure within two months of being given a bankable escrow agreement.

That financial arrangement was upheld by the Madhya Pradesh Supreme Court in February of 2000, but two months later the MPSEB abruptly changed the conditions to state that the cover would be given only after the company achieved financial closure. At this point, Daewoo requested a refund of its security deposit on the grounds that "the purpose for which it was originally requested ceased to exist." It was instead told that it would have to terminate the PPA to get the refund.

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