Suzlon Profit Hit by Shift in India’s Support System for Wind

By Anindya Upadhyay

Suzlon Energy Ltd. reported its lowest quarterly profit in a year as India’s support for auction mechanism to build wind energy projects slowed orders.

The profit of 490.8 million rupees ($7.65 million) during the usually quiet fiscal first quarter compared with a loss of 2.6 billion rupees in the year-ago period, according to a filing to the Indian stock exchange late Friday. The previous three quarters each provided profit over 2 billion rupees.

India in February started the first auctions for wind-energy capacity, where developers bid against each other for contracts to build projects. That both brought down the cost of renewables and unsettled companies accustomed to more predictability on what price they would be paid under the earlier feed-in-tariff regime.

“The transition from feed-in-tariffs to competitive bidding has created temporary volatility in terms of volume and margins,” Chief Executive Officer J.P. Chalasani said in a statement from the Pune-based company on Friday.

The government’s shift in incentives comes at a delicate time for Suzlon, which has been struggling to exit a debt restructuring program after its 2012 default on $209 million of dollar-denominated convertible bonds.

Debt Restructuring

The company had planned to finished the program in March and then three months ago pushed that milestone back to September. A spokeswoman for the company said Friday that the restructuring would finish sometime in the current financial year.

Under the old subsidy system, all projects qualified to receive a fixed rate for their power. The new one is designed to give the government more control of the capacity built and the cost of each new contract.

“In order to cope with the temporary uncertainties in the domestic market we have further strengthened our risk management in order to maintain our margins,” Chief Financial Officer Kirti Vagadia said in the statement.

The company has 1,169 megawatts in orders, down from 1,205 megawatts a year ago. Of that, only about half is backed by power purchase agreements, the company said in its investor presentation.

Inox’s Loss

Suzlon’s profit contrasts with a loss at rival Inox Wind Ltd. Siemens-Gamesa Renewable Energy also attributed a drop in its third-quarter revenue to the changes in India.

According to ratings agency India Ratings and Research, there could be a substantial dip in wind capacity additions in the current financial year ending March 31. Installations could fall to 1 gigawatt to 1.5 gigawatts from an all time high of 5.4 gigawatts last financial year, the rating agency said in a recent note.

Suzlon’s long-term foreign currency debt stands at $698 million (44.86 billion rupees), about the same as a year ago. It’s rupee-term debt to be repaid over the next four years is at 28.59 billion rupees.

Suzlon has 11 gigawatts of installed wind power capacity in India and a total of 17 gigawatts worldwide.

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