To further push reforms in power minister, plans
are on to include the use of emerging technologies in power bids, said
Union Power Minister RK Singh.
“Future power bids will be planned to encourage
manufacturing using the latest technologies, said the Minister at India
PV Edge 2020 held on Tuesday. “We are committed to fulfill our vision to
“electrify our economy” and to “Green our Electricity,” said the
minister, pointing out the ambitious initiatives of e-mobility and clean
cooking based on electricity and powered by green energy.
Harbouring on the perfect
timing to bring together various market players and catalyze cutting-edge
PV manufacturing in India, NITI Aayog, Ministry
of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), and Invest India together organized a
global symposium ‘India PV Edge 2020’ on Tuesday. It was one of its kind
platforms for global cutting-edge technology providers, equipment makers,
and PV champions to present their technologies to the Indian stakeholders
who are drawing up their PV manufacturing plans and collaborate, thus
boosting the ‘Make in India’ campaign. The participating companies also
had the opportunity to hear from the Indian policymakers involved in
developing manufacturing schemes.
India Power Corporation, in consortium with a €71
billion (Rs 6.11 lakh crore) French power
utility major EDF International, have submitted bids to acquire power
distribution utilities in Odisha.
The consortium offers a combination of technical
capabilities, financial strength and decades of experience in domestic
and global environments, the company said in a statement.
The move is part of India Power's strategy to
become the preferred partner of state governments across India for
supplying electricity to domestic and industrial consumers at affordable
India Power whole-time director Somesh
Dasgupta said: "We believe that the
consortium is well placed to meet expectations of all the stakeholders in
Odisha. While India Power will bring in the local knowledge and domain
expertise of more than a century, EDF International will offer
cutting-edge technological capabilities and global best practices."
Having established its expertise in West Bengal,
Gujarat, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh, the company now plans to expand
its operations to enter new geographies, subject to necessary clearances
and approvals, said Raghav Raj Kanoria, managing director, India Power.
An integrated power utility, India Power has been
supplying power over 618 square kilometres in
West Bengal's Asansol-Ranigunj region for more
than a century and has a 2 MW solar plant in Asansol
jointly with the West Bengal Green Energy Development Corporation.
The company's renewable portfolio also includes
35.2 MW of wind power generation assets in Gujarat and Karnataka, where
it has been supplying power to the state electricity distribution
India Power's wholly-owned subsidiary, MP Smart
Grid, has been engaged in executing a first-of-its-kind public private
partnership that involves installation of 350,000 smart meters across
five towns – Ujjain, Ratlam, Dewas, Khargone and Mhow – in Madhya Pradesh. In addition to the
end-to-end deployment of smart meters at the consumer premises, the
project entails setting up of sophisticated technology infrastructure
with an operation and maintenance mandate for a period of five years.
While the power employees called off their strike
on Tuesday evening, earlier in the day UPPCL management had proposed to
its staff to help the corporation in recover at least Rs
50,000 crore from power consumers by March 31, 2021, and the privatisation proposal would be set aside, a top
UPPCL official told TOI.
“This (Rs 50,000 crore)
is just the annual power purchase cost. The average billing cost is
higher than this,” the official said. In the last six months, UPPCL
recovered only Rs 18,000 crore in revenue. This
means that the corporation will have to recover Rs
32,000 crore by March next year. “We wanted to initiate the privatisation process while giving adequate time to
the employees to recover requisite revenue,” the official said.
Sources said the privatisation
bid, if initiated again, would have to be first ratified by the state
cabinet. Sources said UPPCL has asked the power employees to be part of
the documentation process and guide it in keeping the watch on companies
which would distribute power to the consumers after privatisation.
“UPPCL will ensure that the tendering process would be absolutely
transparent,” the official said.
The official said that privatisation
“was not the objective”. “Our objective is self-sufficiency…if the
employees help in scaling up the revenue recovery then there would not be
any need to privatise the distribution
companies,” the official said, maintaining that the process of privatisation itself would take at least 9-10 months.
“Employees need to go around in the district considering it is a do or
die situation. They will have to provide better services to consumers
while recovering revenue,” he said. “If the situation improves and the
requisite revenue is recovered by March next year then UPPCL would cancel
the tendering process,” the official assured. UPPCL sources said the
employees told the corporation brass that they could not function with
the sword of privatisation dangling over their
Was the strike by power department employees, which
was later joined by UPPCL officers to protest against the proposed
privatization of Purvanchal Vidyut
Vitran Nigam Ltd (PVVNL), an attempt to derail
the reforms initiated to change the work culture of the loss-making power
The agitation was called off on Tuesday evening
following an agreement between the energy minister and employees but a
section of officials in UPPCL and the government are baffled over the
strike call on an issue which is only at the stage of discussion. The
state government has not yet taken any stand on the issue and energy
minister Shrikant Sharma is also not in a mood
to rush for privatization.
He himself has ordered inquiry against private
companies in Noida and Agra for “fleecing consumers”.
Sharma is known for his consumer-friendly approach
and has been averse to frequent hikes in power tariff. He has not been in
favour of hasty privatization of power discoms.
Besides, the sudden Uturn
by UPPCL chairman Arvind Kumar, who is also the
additional chief secretary (power), on Monday evening when he reportedly
declined to approve the agreement signed between the energy minister and
agitating employees, created an uncomfortable situation. Talking to TOI,
a director-level officer in UPPCL said: “If the chairman was not ready to
sign the draft agreement to put off the proposed privatisation
by another six months, he should have informed the minister in advance to
save him from embarrassment before employees.”
“In fact, the two-day strike is a bid to derail the
reforms being introduced by the minister,” he added.
Due to the pressure mounted by Sharma on the
department to step up revenue recovery, the monthly collection has gone
up to Rs 5,000 crore after lockdown which was Rs 1,500 more than prelockdown
Also, pending dues of over Rs
15,000 crore on government departments, boards and corporations have been
adjusted through a government guarantee. With this, the dues that the
government owed to the UPPCL stand nil.
Sharma has been on the target of various lobbies
within the corporation. Tainted and incompetent officers, engineers and
lower rung staff who have been given deadlines to bring down transmission
and distribution losses have allegedly been targeting the minister.
Stern measures initiated by Sharma to plug
loopholes in the sector have also annoyed the owners of power plants,
generator suppliers, billing companies and smart meter vendors.
To minimise interface
between consumers and UPPCL staff at power substations to check
harassment of public, Sharma introduced applications for meter
connections and payment of bills through online mode.
Soon after taking over, Sharma had cancelled nearly
half-a-dozen power purchase agreements (PPAs) signed during the Samajwadi Party government as inflated tariff was
Due to the cancellation of PPAs with private power
plants, UPPCL has been paying Rs 5,500 crore
every year as cancellation charge to save Rs
15,000 crore – the cost of inflated PPAs.
In another setback to private players, Sharma had
recently halted installation of smart meters after thousands of houses
plunged into darkness on Janmashtami due to
mass tripping of metres.
Despite repeated reminders, neither the SIT nor STF
has handed over inquiry report to the minister. Lakhs of smart meters
have been found faulty. Sharma has ordered an inquiry to find out why the
UPPCL officials did not check the viability of smart meters.
Officials said that at a time when the state is
generating sufficient power, the demand-supply gap is narrowing and rural
areas are getting 14-hour supply for agriculture works, the unprovoked
strike by UPPCL staff might have dampened the minister’s reform campaign
but he would remain undeterred.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has interacted with Henrik Anderson, President
and CEO, Vestas on the issues related to the
wind energy sector and highlighted Indias
efforts to harness renewable energy.
"Had an insightful interaction with Mr. Henrik
Andersen, President and CEO, @Vestas
. We discussed a series of issues relating to the wind energy
sector. Highlighted some of India's efforts to harness renewable energy
in order to build a cleaner future for the coming generations," PM Modi tweeted on Tuesday.
"Great talk with Hon'ble
PM @narendramodi on innovative ideas that can
push the envelope in the #energytransition.
Very insightful and we are very much looking forward to a continued
collaboration and increased footprint in India", Anderson said in a
"We're thankful to be able to exchange ideas
and ambitions with you, Prime Minister, as you are equally committed to
building a more #sustainablefuture. Today we're
launching the V155 turbine as a first step towards this," the
Vestas has introduced
a low-wind variant suited for India's wind market and expands its
production footprint in the country.
The global demand for sustainable energy solutions
in low and ultra-low wind areas continues to grow as renewable technology
improves in efficiency and cost. This trend is especially prominent in
India, the world's fourth largest wind energy market, where the energy
demand is expected to double and the government intends to add around 100
GW wind power in the predominantly low-wind market by 2030.
While the new turbine is globally applicable, it
initially targets low and ultra-low wind condition projects in India and
US. It increases the turbine swept area by 67 per cent in comparison to
V120-2.2 MW, and with a large rotor to rating ratio, it significantly
improves the partial load production in low-wind conditions. The V155-3.3
MW improves the annual energy production (AEP) by more than three per
cent for a 300 MW wind park with 46 fewer turbines, creating an improved
level of business case certainty.
A company statement said as the turbine will be
predominantly locally manufactured and sourced in India, it reinforces Vestas' existing commitment to the country's growing
renewable energy industry. Vestas will increase
its already prominent manufacturing footprint in India by establishing a
new converter factory in Chennai and expanding its current blade factory
These investments follow our previously announced
new nacelle and hub factory in Chennai, which is currently under
construction. The production ramp-up will add around 1,000 new jobs
within the next year to the approximately 2,600 people currently working
for Vestas in India. While the expanded
production setup in India will serve the growing wind market in the
region, it will also act as a strategic export hub.
As many as 93 per cent of families have metered
electricity connections and 91 per cent of households are billed
regularly for power consumption, as per two independent studies released
by the CEEW.
The studies are based on findings from India
Residential Energy Survey (IRES) 2020 conducted by the Council on Energy,
Environment and Water (CEEW) in collaboration with Initiative for
Sustainable Energy Policy (ISEP).
IRES, which covered nearly 15,000 households across
152 districts in 21 states, is the first-ever pan-India survey on the
state of energy access, consumption and energy efficiency in Indian
"93 per cent of grid-electrified Indian
households had metered connections and 91 per cent were billed regularly
according to two independent studies released today by the CEEW,"
the council said in a statement.
According to the statement, the studies also found
that 77 per cent of grid users were satisfied with their electricity
Further, consumer satisfaction in the rural areas
of Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh and West
Bengal had more than tripled from 23 per cent in 2015 to 73 per cent in
The studies, which also examined energy efficiency
in Indian households, found that 88 per cent of Indian homes had LED
bulbs on the back of the government's Unnat
Jyoti by Affordable LEDs for All (UJALA) scheme and other state
Sanjay Malhotra, Additional Secretary, Ministry of
Power, said, "While a 77 per cent satisfaction rate is high given
the increasing expectations, a 23 per cent unsatisfaction
rate is also a significant number".
"Our focus is now going to be on quality,
reliability and consumer satisfaction to increase satisfaction rates from
77 per cent to 90 per cent and even higher. We are setting up a committee
to develop a framework to rank the distribution companies. Improving
satisfaction rates, and viability and sustainability of discoms is very important," he added.
State-run discoms lose
almost a rupee per unit sold. Electricity is an enabler, and they need to
improve the wherewithal of the discoms while
simultaneously providing electricity to poorer households, Malhotra said.
The CEEW studies also found that 97 per cent of
Indian households were connected to the grid, with another 0.33 per cent
exclusively relying on off-grid electricity sources such as solar home
systems, solar mini-grids, and battery storage.
However, an estimated 2.4 per cent of Indian
households remained unelectrified. Most of such
households were concentrated in the rural areas of Uttar Pradesh,
Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Bihar.
Further, the studies found that the inability to
afford grid-electricity was a key reason for these households to not have
There was an improvement in metering in several
states, including a six-fold improvement in Uttar Pradesh, the studies
However, billing issues remained pronounced in
rural areas, adding to the burden of discoms'
The studies found that Jharkhand had the lowest
share of grid users billed regularly (55 per cent), followed by Bihar (64
per cent). Billing irregularities were high in Assam, Uttar Pradesh, and
Madhya Pradesh as well.
Given the poor payment rates across many states,
power utilities must facilitate direct and indirect digital payment
mechanisms by leveraging micro-entrepreneurs, such as grocery shops and
general merchants, the studies added.
The CEEW studies found that only 17 per cent of
billed consumers pay their bills digitally (27 per cent in urban India
and 12 per cent in rural India). This was despite the fact that 70 per
cent of Indian households had a smartphone.
An average Indian household received 20.6 hours of
power supply from the grid. Urban households received 22 hours of power
supply, the studies said.
However, the studies found that two-thirds of rural
and two-fifths of urban households face outages at least once a day.
Households in Delhi, Kerala, and Gujarat receive
more than 23 hours of daily supply, while households in Uttar Pradesh,
Jharkhand, Haryana, Assam, and Bihar face the longest power outages.
India is yet to achieve access to affordable,
reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all, it said.
To achieve this Sustainable Development Goal, in
addition to identifying and electrifying the remaining 2.4 per cent
households, CEEW studies recommend focusing on sustaining electricity use
in an affordable manner.
India aims to sharply lower its dependence on coal
in its electricity generation mix, as part of a broader plan to raise
power output from cleaner sources and cut emissions.
Non-fossil fuel sources will account for as much as
60pc of our generation capacity by 2030, power minister Raj Kumar Singh
said yesterday. Non-thermal sources, such as nuclear, hydropower and
renewables, currently make up 38.5pc of installed capacity, he said.
Delhi made an international commitment five years
ago that as much as 40pc of its overall generation capacity would be
based on cleaner energy sources by 2030, a goal which the country is set
to achieve as early as this year. This would give policymakers more
bandwidth to keep a lid on the growth of the coal-fired fleet in the country.
The growth in India's renewable energy capacity is
expected to outpace the expansion of its coal-power stations in the
coming decade, in line with plans to cut its dependence on the thermal
fuel. The government intends to add capacity from renewable energy
sources, especially solar. Even state-controlled utility NTPC has laid
out ambitious plans for growth of its green energy portfolio.
The country aims to raise its renewable energy
capacity to 450GW by 2030, the minister said. This is higher than the
435GW estimated earlier this year by the Central Electricity Authority
(CEA), which is part of India's power ministry. India is already working
in the shorter term to expand its total renewable energy capacity to
175GW by 2022. It currently stands at around 89GW, accounting for 24pc of
installed capacity. This compares with 205.95GW of coal-based capacity,
which is around 55pc of the country's current generation capability.
The push for renewables also includes setting up
local manufacturing lines for solar panels, modules and other equipment.
The government will support the local manufacturing industry by providing
incentives, Singh said. Companies setting up hubs for local manufacturing
of advanced technology would be given additional benefits. At the same
time, imports of renewable energy equipment would be discouraged through
tax and other administrative measures.
The growth in renewable energy will be supported by
a steady rise in the country's power demand, the minister said. This
would also support the growth of the domestic manufacturing industry.
Retiring coal-based plants will be replaced by
renewable energy capacity. The CEA has identified 34 coal-based power
stations with a combined capacity of 5.14GW that can be retired,
according to its latest assessment. The minister said about 29 plants
would be retired.
A total of 164 coal-based units with a combined
capacity of 14.12GW have been made redundant in the last 18 years, Singh
told parliament last month.
The plans come as coal continues to be a vital part
of India's electricity mix, accounting for about 75pc of actual
generation. The country's total generation, including coal-fired output,
rose from a year ago after declining for six straight months.
India's coal-fired generation rose by 6.82TWh from
a year earlier to 78.91TWh in September, according to provisional data
from the CEA.
The rise was supported by a gradual recovery in
industrial activity that had been hamstrung by the country's Covid-19
lockdown, which was partially lifted in June. The last month's
year-on-year increase in generation was also partly attributed to the low
base of comparison with September 2019, when heavy rainfall lifted
Uttar Pradesh is one of India’s top five or six
worst-performing states when it comes to the power sector—its losses
doubled to Rs 6,497 crore between FY17 and FY19—and
the gap between the cost of buying electricity and selling it rose from
33 paise per unit to 60 paise
in the same period. And, despite promising to reduce its ATC losses to
14.86% by FY20 as part of the Uday bailout
package less than five years ago, its losses were more than double at
30.3% for April-December 2019. As a result of this, its share in India’s
total state electricity board losses rose from 7.4% in FY17 to 10.4% in
Given this performance—and Uttar Pradesh is not the
only state doing a bad job—it is hardly surprising that the state’s
distribution companies (discoms) are finding
their outstanding loans piling up. While a sum of around Rs 120,000 crore is to be lent—by government-owned
PFC and REC—to various discoms across the
country, and Uttar Pradesh was to get around a sixth of this, it was
hoped that this would result in genuine reforms this time around; indeed,
Union power minister RK Singh has promised this from time to time. So, it
comes as a shock that, as this newspaper reported on Wednesday, the Uttar
Pradesh government has decided to put off its plan to privatise
the Varanasi discom in the face of protests by
the staffers of the Purvanchal Vidyut Vitran Nigam Limited
(PVVNL); interestingly, this comes even as the central power ministry is
trying to fast-track discom privatisation
by issuing draft standard bidding guidelines. At 38%, PVVNL has the
highest ATC losses of all the state’s five discoms.
On the face of it, the process is still on, and a
final call will be taken after three months. But, given that the
government has assured workers that no decision would be taken without
taking them into confidence, it is unlikely that any privatisation
can now take place; more so since the workers have seen that pressure
tactics work. If the central government genuinely wants reforms—as
opposed to just giving the discoms more money
to burn—it has to ensure there is a meaningful penalty for errant states.
The only way to do this is to enter into a tripartite agreement with the
states and SEBs that allow RBI to deduct the states’ balances with it—the
central government deposits the states’ share of taxes in an RBI
account—whenever discoms fail to make a payment
to suppliers; once states realise they have a
lot to lose and that another bailout won’t be around the corner, they
will automatically fall in line. Whether they privatise
discoms or raise tariffs or cut theft is up to
each state. So far, government policy has been about carrots, it needs to
be about sticks now.