Govt lays groundwork for 24×7 power for all

New Delhi: The government is preparing a blueprint for the supply of 24×7 electricity that will include customized plans for each state and lays special emphasis on green power and energy efficiency.
The reports for the plan titled Power for All (PFA), to be readied by December, will take into account the individual requirements of the states and Union territories and their financial capacity to produce additional electricity.
Such plans have already been prepared for Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan. Reports have been submitted for Uttarakhand, Goa, Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Assam for deliberations. PFA roadmaps have also to be prepared for Bihar, Telangana, Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya in the first phase.
It’s in line with the stance of power minister Piyush Goyal’s stand that a one-size-fits-all approach, followed by the previous United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, wouldn’t work, given the wide disparities between the requirements and resources of individual states.
As part of the nationwide exercise, the government has appointed consultants such as Crisil Ltd, Mecon Ltd and Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu India Pvt. Ltd, for a year to prepare PFA documents for around 11 states and Union territories.
The most comprehensive exercise put into play by the power ministry to map India’s electricity requirements, it will help gauge financial implications for meeting future demand.
“There are 34 states and Union territories covered under this exercise,” a Crisil spokesperson said in an emailed response to queries.
The work involves estimation “of future demand in view of a reliable 24×7 power supply to all connected consumers in view of aspiration level of energy consumption.”
The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government, which has made boosting power generation a key policy priority, is looking to supply adequate power at affordable prices. The aim is to double electricity generation to two trillion units by 2019.
India has an installed power generation capacity of 268,602.35 MW. The country’s per capita power consumption, about 940 kilowatt-hour (kWh), is among the lowest in the world.
Around 280 million people in the country do not have access to electricity. In comparison, China has a per capita consumption of 4,000kWh, with developed nations averaging around 15,000kWh per capita.
“CRISIL Infrastructure Advisory has already prepared and submitted the documents for Uttarakhand and Goa, and both are in the finalization stage. Besides summarizing the investment requirement of the sector, these documents also provide parameters that need to be monitored on a quarterly basis.
“Documents for Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Meghalaya and Tripura are in the draft or discussion stage and are proposed to be completed by August 2015, depending upon the availability of data from the states,” the Crisil spokesperson said.
Queries emailed to the spokespersons for the power ministry, Deloitte and Mecon remained unanswered as of press time.
The document prepared by the consultants will work as a primer for the implementation phase.
They would be exhaustive, setting time-bound targets and covering areas such as the power supply scenario, financial position of the state utilities and policy and regulatory issues.
They would also lay down plans for generation, transmission, distribution, national resource optimization and manpower.
“The exercise will be completed by December. It is being regularly monitored on a monthly basis,” a government official said on condition of anonymity.
“The idea is to prepare for all present and future requirements. The scheme is very ambitious in nature,” said a person involved in the preparation process requesting anonymity.
India’s energy woes have meant the country has been hard-pressed to generate enough power to keep its economic engine running at a price that makes its manufacturing competitive.
This comes in the backdrop of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Make in India’ programme wherein special emphasis has been placed on manufacturing, in which India lags behind Asian economies such as China, to boost economic growth.
Experts stressed the need for electricity tariff corrections to improve the financial position of electricity distribution companies, or discoms, to reinforce the plan to deliver 24X7 power.
“It is an excellent diagnostic tool. It will come up with discoms financial problem,” said P. Umashankar, a former power secretary. “It is also likely to throw up the increase required in tariff if the concerned state is to provide 24×7 electricity to all rural households. Unless the central and the state governments are able to increase tariff to make it cost-reflective, the aim of 24×7 power will be adversely affected.”
State electricity boards (SEBs) have been unwilling to procure electricity because of their weak financials, given low tariffs, slow progress in reducing losses, higher power purchase costs and crippling debt.
SEBs are laden with debt of `.3.04 trillion and losses of `2.52 trillion.
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