Rangrajan Committee report on natural gas pricing and its Repercussions on sector:

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Fossil fuels play a major role in meeting the energy demand of the nation and are expected to continue doing so in the foreseeable future. Oil & gas resources form a major part of our primary energy mix and touch our lives in more ways than one. The developing Indian economy has been constantly challenged for sourcing primary energy. India is dependent on imported crude oil to the extent that recently the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) has observed that India was the world’s fifth largest net importer of oil in 2012, importing more than 2.2 million bbl. /d , or about 70 percent of consumption.
Natural gas pricing in India is diverse and complex in nature. India is one of the few countries where different types of basic prices of gas are prevalent. Across the gas value chain and particularly for consumers, the complexity in the pricing of natural gas in India has resulted in enormous problems.
OILProposed pricing formula by Rangarajan Committee implies gas price at USD8/mmbtu
Background for gas pricing in India: Committee observed that as there is no gas on-gas competition in India, which is unlikely to happen for several years, it proposed a formula based on wider global prices. Further, even as the global gas markets are not coherent like oil markets, committee proposed a formula based on average of net-backs for producers and average of exchange traded prices.
Formula proposed by the committee: Arms-length price in India = 12-month average of:
a) volume-weighted net-back pricing at well head for gas producers who export to India and
b) volume-weighted price of US’s Henry Hub, UK’s NBP and Japan’s JCC linked price. Committee has not commented on domestic gas allocation to sectors.
The suggested formula will apply to pricing decisions made in future, and can be reviewed after five years when the possibility of pricing based on direct gas-on-gas competition may be assessed.

Review of recommendations related to Natural Gas Price:

•Since the PSC-related key financial recommendations are on prospective basis, they would not impact current PSCs and hence would not impact the profitability/NAV of current producing blocks of RIL/Cairn India.
•However, the proposed gas pricing formula will have a meaningful impact on the domestic gas producers (RIL, ONGC, Oil India) as RIL’s KG-D6 gas price revision is due in March 2014 and would also influence prices for other gas producers like ONGC.
• Committee’s recommendation to determine gas price through arms-length is a very positive one. However, views/affordability of the key consuming sectors like power and fertilizer would also weigh heavily on the final gas price decision in March 2014. The higher input price for fertilizer will have implications.

Impact of Recommendations:
•Domestically produced gas price in the country would then be around $7-8/mmBtu at the current rate.
However, any increase in domestic prices would negatively impact the downstream consuming sectors, predominantly power and fertilizer sectors. While power generation cost would increase compelling an increase in power tariffs, increase in feedstock cost for fertilizer sector would lead to increase in governments’ outlay on fertilizer subsidy. Currently power and fertilizer sectors consume about 2/3rd of domestic gas. For other industries which consume domestic gas as fuel the alternative fuel choice is liquid fuels. As a result any increase in domestic gas price is not likely to affect its competitiveness vis – a vis other liquid fuels.
Moreover ,other effects which can be summarized are as follows:
-ise in inflation sharply which is around 10.16 % already in double digit.
-rise in prices in almost all sectors major sectors affected will be Transport, Auto, FMCG, Textiles.
-The rise in LPG gas will cut the common man’s pocket deeply.
-Impact on banking sectors as the hike may lead to raise in inflation which will urge RBI to raise interest rates thus affecting banks due to tightening of CRR.
-The decision will help to rein in the fiscal deficit, which is projected at 5.5 percent of the gross domestic product in 2010/11 and free up revenues for other programs.
-State oil firms currently lose about Rs 215 crores per day on selling fuel below the imported cost. Thus it will help these companies to make profits.

Thus this can be summarized with a view point that there are some of the key issues that need to be taken care before implementing the recommendations by the Rangrajan committee because ultimately it is the end user or consumer who will be facing the brunt of the increase in net price in natural gas and LPG.
There is an urgent need for Indian policymakers to draw on market oriented solutions to resolve the immense uncertainty that exists in the gas sector.
References :Report of the Committee on Pricing and Taxation of Petroleum Products , 2006 (Rangrajan Committee Report),CII,MoPNG

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Decentralised and Distributed Generation(DDG): Policy Recommendations for Implementation

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Power is essential for the socio-economic development of a country and is being recognized as a basic infrastructural requirement. Although the installed capacity has increased to 210 GW but India faced an energy deficit of 10.1% in 2011-12.
Even today, 40 per cent of households are denied electricity; the other 60 per cent do not have reliable access to electricity and is lagging service, measured by hours of supply as well as penetration. Power cuts, erratic voltage and low or high supply frequency have added to the ‘power woes’ of the consumer.
Today, the need of the hour is sustainable power supply which will help address the need for increased demand. For a large and dispersed country like India, with its unique geography and current state of economy, innovative means of producing energy needs to be looked at to reduce its dependence on oil and coal as a primary source of energy.
Ministry of Power, Government of India launched Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana (RGGVY) in 2005 for providing access to electricity to rural households. Electrification of about 1.15 lakh un-electrified villages and electricity connections to 2.34 crore BPL households by 2009 was on the agenda. Under the scheme of Rural Electricity Infrastructure and Household Electrification, DDG was introduced in the XIth Plan to address the issue with the recommendations of Gokak Committee.
Technologies which can be used for Distributed Generation are:
• The Internal Combustion Engine.
• Biomass
• Turbines
• Micro-turbines
• Wind Turbines
• Concentrating Solar Power (CSP)
• Photovoltaic
• Fuel Cells
• Small-Hydel
Penetration of DDG: As on 30-11-2012[ ], around 6% of the villages are still to be electrified and these villages will be electrified with a mix of GE and DDG.

Benefits of DDG
-Utilization of waste fuel to Energy
-Investment Deferral in Transmission Sector
-Power Quality and Ancillary Service
-Remote Areas Electrification
-Power Quality

Barriers to implementation of DDG
-Lack of Adequate Information for market development.
-Poor Access to Credit
-Lack of awareness of RET(Rural Energy Technologies) in rural India
-Limited Site specific issues may erupt
-Financial Viability-A major factor

To successfully implement DDG,Overall strategy that can be thought of is

-Support Incentive in the near term
-Transition to New Market
-Reducing remaining institutional barriers.

Model/Proposed Framework for Implementation of DDG:

• Rural Electrification Policy: The current REP Clearly discusses the means of achieving 100% rural electrification but it falls short of recommending a single nodal Agency for all rural electrification efforts as shown in Fig 1. The Agency will have to act as an overseer for channelizing of funds through various agencies like MNRE, REC etc. and encouraging private participation in the sector.

Under Sec 14 of Electricity Act 2003, no licence is required for electricity generation & distribution in notified rural areas (26 states have notified).RE Policy states that for villages/habitations, where grid connectivity would not be feasible or not cost effective, off-grid solutions based on stand-alone systems may be taken up for supply of electricity so that every household gets access to electricity.

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• Management of DDG systems: Local authority/panchayat/societies need to maintain the system as they are the real consumers and a sense of belongingness may incorporate in them.
• Selection of Technology: Relevant technology need to be adopted by the authorities with adequate feasibility analysis(in terms of raw materials, feedstock level, transportation facilities, usage pattern of consumers etc.) of particular region.
• Capital Subsidy from Government: Generally Rural cooperative societies manage the high expenditure of the DDG but owning to huge capital expenditure involved in the preliminary stage, government should provide adequate subsidy to the developers or the EPC companies whosoever is involved in the project. The incentives/subsidy should be based on the various factors like geographic location of area, planned capacity addition and output performance.
• Enabling guidelines for Tariff revision: Under the purview of CERC, Tariff setting and revision should be taken care by the concerned nodal agency which has been assigned the successful implementation of DDG in a particular area and moreover there should be crystal clear transparency in this process.
• CDM Benefits: All RE projects are eligible for CDM benefits, DDG projects can be made financially more viable and competitive after encompassing the monetary benefits associated with them.
• Considerations to be taken w.r.t various institutional Models recommended by Gokak Committee: Models like Sunderbans Model, TERI Model, Bangladesh Model may be adopted after suitable changes in order to increase people participation at large.

• Other recommendations:
 Extend RGGVY to fund evacuation infrastructure
 Develop transparent and simple interconnection rules and procedures.
 Streamlining Project Approval

In the long run, distributed generation will help consumers to get power at lower tariff as power will be available at lower per unit cost. More employment opportunities, both at plant management level and in the manufacturing sector for related machinery, will improve living standards of the people. Availability of power at low cost will attract more investments, which would be more evenly distributed throughout the country rather than being limited to cities alone.
Going forward, concerted efforts by the Union and State Governments, financial institutions, academic and research institutes, non-governmental organisations, as well as multilateral and bilateral agencies is required. A distributed generation matrix for India is recommended for lighting the lives of those for whom lighting a bulb still remains a distant dream!

References:
• Biomass Energy for Rural India Society, available at http://bioenergyindia.kar.nic.in Central Electricity Authority http://www.cea.nic.in)
• Village Electrification report of CEA
• Gokak Committee Report on Distributed Generation
• “Electricity Act 2003”, Ministry of Power, Government of India, New Delhi, India, Jun. 2003.
• World Bank Report on “Empowering Rural India: Expanding Electricity Access by Mobilizing Local Resources” 2010.
• California Energy Commission “Distributed generation and cogeneration policy roadmap for California” 2010
• Chandrashekar Iyer,” Decentralized Distributed Generation for India” – 2011

RPO(Renewable Purchase Obligations)- Where are we??

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Introduction of REC(https://www.recregistryindia.nic.in/index.php/general/publics/AboutREC) trading framework has been a significant step in 2010,transforming the renewable energy market to go for market based modelled approach. Success/ Failure of the REC Trading framework can be gauged from the inventory being built up in monthly trading sessions. Of the 712792 RECs put up for sale in the two power exchanges in Sep 2012 session, about 450000 remained unsold and moreover 37% of the REC holders didn’t participate in the trading session at that time. This growing demand supply mismatch is giving alarming bells to the project developers and various potential investors who are eager to invest in RE sector in the near future.
REC mechanism seeks to expand its horizon from resource rich states to the deficit states but the key factor which will lead to success of REC is the RPOs by various obligated entities. Nonetheless state power regulators need to play a proactive role in the development of REC market. Till date all states except Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim have declared their RPOs explicitly(http://ceew.in/pdf/Appendix_F-Renewable_Purchase_Obligation_for_States.pdf).
A survey was conducted to gauge the total renewable energy capacity of states,RPOs declared by them, CUFs of various renewable sources of energy. It has been analysed that only 4 states -Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Karnataka and Maharashtra have significant wind power installations and RPOs higher than those required in 2010-11 and 2011-12.For eg Tamil Nadu needed about 4000MW of renewable energy capacity to meet its RPO of 14 % and it has already installed capacity of 4908MW.Except these states, rest of them were unable to meet their solar RPOs.

Weak Links
-There is huge inconsistency in RPO norms across the states. NAPCC,2008 targets 5% of the total grid purchase to be achieved through renewable energy. However in the absence of national level RPOs, states have been fixing their own targets depending upon the availability of renewable energy in that particular area.
-Another risk that is quite prominent as far as REC market is concerned- regulatory capture by the obligated entities which further skews the market against developers and investors. Certain states have been revising their RPOs targets in a downward trend for e.g Tamil Nadu(wind rich state) revised from 14% (2010-11) to 10% (2011-12).According to regulators, unrealistic targets imposed by some state regulators could set a wrong precedent not only for the state. Similarly, in April 2012, MP Power Trading Company Ltd. requested MPERC to waive RPO targets for solar energy for 2011-12 and 2012-13 because no solar power plant has been commissioned in MP and solar RECs were not available for trading on any one of the exchanges.
-RPO setting in most of the states is based on the assessments that are outdated. Therefore, they are set much lower than what could be feasible. Some stake holders are worried about the impact on tariff due to these targets. Like a study conducted by CRISIL along with CERC indicated that compliance with NAPCC target will have a marginal tariff impact of Re 0.01/unit/consumer ,reducing every year to reach Re 0.005/unit/consumer by 2017.
-Another risk that is anticipated by developers is lack of visible long term RPO trajectory. Only 7 states(AP,karnataka, Delhi, HP, Kerela, Maharashtra, Odisha) have declared their RPO trajectory till 2015-16 or beyond.
Limited Focus on CPPs and Open Access consumers
While most of the states have amended their regulations to include open access customers and CPPs under the purview of RPO but still there are some states which have not notified their OA and CPP consumers to meet RPOs. The glim scenario can be seen from the trading of RECs over IEX in which over 90% of the participants are DISCOMs and there have been very few CPPs and Open Access users. But there are states like Karnataka i.e KPTCL directed OA users in the state to fulfill 5% RPO for 2011-12.Similary Chattisgarh has also notified CPPs to provide RPO compliance on monthly basis.
Small Beginnings
Recently Rajasthan high court dismissed an appeal raised by Hindustan Zinc, Ambuja Cements etc that had challenged RPO regulation enacted by RERC. The petitioners stated that RERC did not have authority to pass the RPO regulation and impose a surcharge(penalty) as CPPs and OA were completely de-licensed under EA 2003.However Jaipur bench of High court rejected the petition stating the exact meaning of word ‘total consumption’ as total consumption in the area of distribution licensees in all modes. One of the reason for non compliance is the lack of incentive mechanism to support RPO implementation.
Supportive Measures
-A key stumbling block in the implementation of RPO is the financially strained DISCOMs. Burdened with over 2 trillion of losses, how can one expect DISCOMs buying costly RECs? However a recent development is the Debt restructuring for the DISCOMs(http://powermin.nic.in/whats_new/pdf/Financial_restructuring_of_State_Distribution_Companies_discoms_Oct2012.pdf)
-Another encouraging trend is that several DISCOMs have been facing losses due to their inability to hike tariffs but recently over 17 states have revised their tariffs giving a good signal to the market stabilization for RE.
Need to Improve REC Market Design
-There is lack of visibility in floor and forbearance price beyond the initial five year period because only non PPAs based sales are eligible for RECs.
-REC trading is restricted to auction markets and can be conducted only on a “once through” basis, thereby not permitting forward contracting and liquidity reduction.There is a sheer need of secondary trading market,which both the exchanges as well as industry players have been seeking for some time.
-Finally compliance window has to be shortened to a quarter or half year to ensure that there is continuous procurement action on obligated entities.

Thus,REC markets will fail to bring the desired results unless regulators are empowered to enforce the RPOSs and DISCOMs are allowed to function as independent power utilities rather than as an arm of government.

References: Power Line Magazine,MNRE Website, ICRA report on DISCOM bailout,REC registry,RE Connect etc.

Indian Coal Sector- Some Recommendations

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Coal India and CHinaET052809_indiaAs discussed in my previous post about the sorrow plight of Indian Coal Sector. The demand supply gap of Indian Domestic sector is increasing with each succeeding year (161MT ;2011-12). Under the umbrella of this mismatch between demand supply of Indigenous coal sector ,various recommendations have been put forward which can be summarized as:

Innovation and Technology:

  1. 1.Increase in Coal Production :Today, as the world has already started looking after a ‘sustainable practice’, in any domain and industrial and commercial practices, we really need to start assessing our potential and compare practices in the country vis-a-vis the other parts of the world which are more advanced in the sector. There can be 4 major advantages with the advent of new technology like Higher returns(IRR),Lower environmental degradation, lower per tonne of ore cost and higher production realization. An example of innovation in coal mining is  moving from smaller capacity shovel to bucket sizes of even 25-30cu m capacities depending on factors like mine geology, size of mine etc. having digging capacities of the order of 11,000 MT/hr.
  2. Effective exploitation of resources: Evaluation of mineral resources required typical geological models and various geological technologies and the prospect of getting coal reserves in those particular areas is heavily dependent on the extracted data. As on April 2011

Total coal resource: Proved -114001.60,Indicated- 137471.10,Inferred- 34389.51, Total – 285862.21 .
Due to various limitations of the renewable sector, there is a need to tap our huge coal reserves. As far coal mining is concerned ,most of the mining practices are Open case mines(around 90%) as compared to Under ground mining thereby leading the drop in net coal production in some areas where the coal seam in as below as 90-100KM.Some of the prominent steps that can lead to increase in coal production are Use of proper and scientifically proven mining technology, Adopting the correct mining method (OCM/Long wall/other variants), Combining smaller mining areas to develop these into one single mine of large capacities, Promoting mining industries to have a maximum level of extraction by giving them incentives/tax rebates, Close monitoring by our government agencies in each mining project to crosscheck,the progress of each mining project in terms of percentage extraction,Meeting targets of mining projects not only in terms of production (per annum),but also on per annum level of extraction to match with the overall mineable reserves of a mining project.

     3. Coal Quality Improvements : Indian Coal is characterized by high ash content, low sulphur,low moisture content. Lower washeability index, lower liberalization size. Due to these peculiar problems in Indian coal, there comes the need to go for importing of coal. CFRI(Central Fuel Research Institute,Dhanbad) has proposed some of the methods to improve wash ability index of the coal  like improved froth floatation process, oil agglomeration process, oleo floatation process.(http://eprints.nmlindia.org/5887/1/Chap_9.PDF)

   4. Improving Infrastructure and transport: One of the major issues being faced by the industry for the coal movement within India is transportation and infrastructure. Following are the major challenges being faced in coal transportation:

-Lack of availability of proper transportation mode for produced coal

• Mismatch between the demand and supply of railway wagons

• Lack of infrastructure to support a coal movement at full capacities

Some of the steps to improve the transport facilities and infrastructural requirements in order to compliment the coal industry rather than hamper its progress are as follows:

• Enhanced road connectivity across mineral zones and consumers

• Infrastructure developments driven by PPP

• Restructuring and/or reallocation of railway networks to connect with the coal

bearing areas

• Doubling of railway routes at places where coal movement is higher

• Enhancing port capacities as well as evacuation efficiency and augmenting the

existing capacities from existing ports.

Policies and Regulations: Without relevant policies measures and regulations every step will be of no use. Government has recommended various policy measures in its report of Coal Competitiveness and they can be summarized as follows: 

  • Auction of Coal licenses/ non coal minerals through competitive bidding and thereby leading to a boost In investor confidence.
  • MMDR Bill 2011 guaranteed annuity of 26 % to the local population, thereby increasing the inclusion of host population in the mining process in particular area.
  • Drafting of national sustainable energy framework for mining areas.
  • Thrust on exploration on mineral resources by AMD, GSI, CMPDIL and MECL and classification of mineral resources as per the United Nations Framework Classification (UNFC) code.
  • Setting up of coal regulatory authority that will act as watch dog for coal pricing mechanism in India.
  • Single window clearance mechanism for taking the clearance such environment, land etc.

Above mentioned recommendations and policy regulations if implemented with proper strategy will ultimately transform India from Coal Importer country to Coal Exporter Country in the near future.

References : Report of Indian Chambers of Commerce,MoP,Newspaper Abstracts etc.

Indian Coal Sector- The Bottlenecks

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Globally, coal resources have been estimated at over 861 billion tonne.While India accounts for 286 billion tonne of coal resources (as on 31 March 2011), other countries with major chunk of resources are USA, China, Australia, Indonesia, South Africa and Mozambique.Coal meets around 30.3% of the global primary energy needs and generates 42% of the world’s electricity.India has the fifth largest coal reserves in the world. Of the total reserves, nearly 88% are non-coking coal reserves, while tertiary coals reserves account for a meager 0.5 % and the balance is coking coal. The Indian coal is characterised by its high ash content (45%) and low sulphur content.The power sector is the largest consumer of coal followed by the iron and steel and cement segments.

Some Facts about Coal Generation:

At the end of September 2012, 35 coal-based power plants had less than seven days of

coal stocks . This was due to the following:

  • Twenty-two of these occurrences is due to no, inadequate or delayed receipt from  Coal India or one of its subsidiary firms.
  • Ten of these instances are due to plants running at above-planned PLFs.
  • Five instances are due to inadequate import of coal.

Similarly, for the first half of 2012-13, the average PLF of coal-based plants has been 68.27%, as opposed to 71.20% for the same period a year ago. Approximately 12.3 BU of generation shortfall in this period is directly attributable to the shortage of coal.

Some of the broader aspects of the Coal Sector can be listed as follows:

  1. Operational and Sustenance Issues:
  • Issues relating to fund raising for various coal projects in rural and semi urban areas, and this can be primarily cited as monopolization of the CIL in the sector which is barring the private sector investment in the sector
  • Issue related to performance of mining activities in India as most of the mining that is done in India is Open Cast Mining(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open-pit_mining) instead of Underground Mining(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coal_mining)
  • Private sector investment is also underdeveloped as there is not a detailed classification of various minerals according to UNFC(http://ibm.nic.in/unfc.pdf).

    2. Key Administrative Issues:

  • Long queue of Mining applications are lying at various levels of state and center levels thereby creating roadblocks in the path of adequate mining.
  • There has been a proposal for Single Window Clearance Agency(SWCA) that will root out the so called “red tapism” in various governmental procedures.
  • There have been a case of multiple registration counters/mechanisms for traders,miners,developers thereby making the final target a blurred one to be achieved in a target time.

    3. Regulatory Issues: According to mine developers there are many loopholes in the policy regimes and regulatory issues regarding mining of natural resources.Prominent ones may be listed as follows:

  • There is a lack of incentive mechanism in the mining sector-recommendation will be like to extend performance based incentive as has been laid down in NELP policies.
  • There has been lack of policy support in transfer of mining licenses.The mine owners are not able to mine scientifically while complying to all the environmental norms and would like to dispose off these areas or develop them through forming a joint venture.States may allow this move in order to increase the production capability of the state mining companies.
  • The government must strictly adhere to timelines as per the MMDR act and MCR, and extension should be granted only on genuine cases as permitted under law.

  4.Fiscal Issues: There have been really poor connectivity issues between the mining areas and moreover the evacuation facilities are also having a downsizing trend.

  5. Infrastructural Issues: Cadastral (Khasra) maps are either not digitized or the geo referencing has not been done properly. This creates problems in lease boundary  determination, thus hampering genuine miners. As a recommendation states may appoint a nodal agency to undertake these prefeasibility studies and thereby indicating the authenticity of data too.

These are some basic issues that are needed to be tackled by Indian Power Sector at the earliest and thereby making it a efficient coal production nation. Various recommendations about the problems will be taken up in the subsequent posts.

References: Indian Chambers of Commerce, MoP, CEA etc

miners.

Revival Strategies for Indian Power Sector

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India being fifth largest energy consumer in the world is rising high in terms of installed capacity (207 GW,Source : CEA as on 11.Nov.2012). Much progress is evident in Infrastructure,Telecom but things in power sector is not going as per the planning done by our GoI and MoP and thus India’s economic growth is at risk. Inspite of  having so many reforms and policies,Indian power sector is grappling with “Cancer” and it requires some sheer reforms that will ultimately lift it to more sustainable position. Some of recent reforms/policies that have jolted Indian power sector in recent times can be summarised as below:

  1. Competitive Bidding of Captive Coal Blocks: Competitive Bidding Mines Rules,2012(http://www.coal.nic.in/100212.pdf) has been notified in Feb,2012 and according to which Captive coal blocks will be allotted on the basis of competitive bidding to the power plant developers.After the recent COAL SCAM(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_coal_allocation_scam) there was a lot of hue and cry about the allotment of coal mines to non serious players in the Indian power market.Almost each and every bidder has earned a windfall gain through the Coal Scam. According to the recent Competitive Bidding guidelines, Coal will now be allocated to companies in specific end use sectors(excluding power companies) through an auction under which two part bids would be invited over a floor price.For power companies, the respective state will select a developer on the basis of competitive tariff bids and recommend coal block allocation. Moreover power companies are required to pay the reserve price fixed by state government for such coal blocks.
  2.  Approval of draft of MMDR(Mines and Minerals(Development and Regulations) Bill,2011: Another much awaited bill is the MMDR Bill(http://pib.nic.in/archieve/others/2011/sep/d2011093002.pdf) which has been approved by the cabinet in Sep,2011.It will be enacted after getting approval from President as well as Parliament.The bill provides a strong legislative environment for socio- economic conditions of the mining areas and the people which are effected  by the same.The core of bill is a provision that mandates coal mining lease holders to contribute 20% of their Post tax profits( PAT -It is the net profit earned by the company after deducting all expenses like interest, depreciation and tax.PAT can be fully retained by a company to be used in the business. However dividend is paid to the share holders from this residue.) to a distinct mineral fund,which will be used to meet social compensation obligations.With the advent of this policy,it might make a dent to the profits of CIL,SCCL and they can take a harsh step of increasing the coal prices which will affect the developers and consumers at last.
  3. Revision of Royalty Rates: Another significant aspect that occurred in recent times is the revision of Royalty rates in which there is an increase of 14% ad valorem and 6% advalorem on coal,lignite respectively.(http://pib.nic.in/newsite/erelease.aspx?relid=82191)
  4. Exemption of Import Duty on thermal Coal:  The finance Bill that has been passed by Parliament enforces the exemption of  5% basic customs duty and 1% Countervailing duty  on thermal coal imports for indefinite time.This is major step in favour of major coal importers as well as power plant developers.Moreover,ECB has been allowed in case of Indian power sector which will be used to part finance the rupees based debt of power plant projects.
  5. Presidential Decree to CIL:  A presidential decree has been issued to CIL for supplying coal to power generating companies under the terms and conditions of FSA.
  6. Revision of Standard Bidding Documents: In the generation side, There has been a major revision in case of Case 1 and Case 2 Bidding Documents in lieu of competitive bidding.MoP has also issued drafts related to UMPP Power projects and these aimed at more stringent bidding process with higher performance guarantees and other eligibility norms.Only core sectors companies can participate in bidding process and company can’t have more than 3 UMPPs in the pre commissioning stage.CERC has been made a regulatory body to intervene in the cases related to PPAs.
  7. Issue of Guidelines for Short Term Market: MoP released a notice of guidelines related to comptetive bidding in short term power market(accounts for 10% of the total electricity generated in the market).
  8. Imposition of Import Duty on Power Equipment:  Union cabinet approved the request of imposing 21 % import duty on the power plant equipment. The move has been taken to restrict the cheaper equipment that are being used in the Indian power scenario thereby hampering the growth of Indian manufacturing industries which are still struggling to develop the power plant.
  9. Steps in Renewable Sector: A major step taken in Renewable sector is the withdrawal of Accelerated Depreciation and GBI i.e Generation Based Incentives (http://www.eai.in/debate/scrapping-of-the-accelerated-depreciation-incentive-for-wind-projects). This move will led to low capacity additions in the coming years & it has been speculated that MNRE will reintroduce incentives in the 12th plan.
  10. Regulatory Initiatives: CERC has played major role in the past year in formulating various key policies especially related to transmission and distribution sector i.e tightening of frequency band from 49.5 – 50.2 to 49.7 – 50.2 Hz. This has been primarily done to increase grid security in more stricter manner (under Electricity Grid Code 2010)
  11. Ensuring Timely tariff revision: In Nov 2011,APTEL (Aplleete Tribunal) passed a landmark judgement regarding timely revision of tariffs by state DISCOMs.SERCs(StateElectricity Regulatory Comissions) has been directed to issue suo moto proceedings for tariff determination within a month of scehduled tariff petition.In June 2010,GERC became the first commission to implement APTEL’s order.
  12. Implementation of Open Access: In Nov 2011,MoP announced all consumers to be eligible for Open Access who have their load more than 1 MW.Moreover state regulators have jurisdiction over fixing of energy charges for these consumers. Inspite of these efforts, there is a need to take strict steps to implement it as in some cases like Odisha they are trying to suppress it by Sec 11 of EA 2003.
  13. Renewable Energy Regulations: Renewable Energy Regulations has been made effective from 1st,April 2012 for five years.It lays down the guidelines for tariff determination and moreover the floor prices, forbearance prices have been revised. Forbearance Price of Non Solar RECs Rs 3300/MWh & Floor Price as Rs 1500/MWh(Solar RECs).

So, a bunch of steps have been taken to revive the Indian Power Sector but the Sector requires strong implementation strategy which will ultimately make India from Power deficit nation to power surplus nation.

References: PowerLine Magazine,Govt. sites like MoC,MoP etc

Dark Times in India-Northern Grid Failure

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Two Biggest failures occurred in India on Tuesday i.e 30th &  31st July 2012 when more than half of the population went deprived of electrical power. This has given alarming bells to the Indian power sector as this was the second incident back to back in 2 days.

Collapse was already on the way: On Jun 8th, Northern Regional Power Committee has already warned various northern states about the over drawl of power and Grid discipline should be maintained.Two weeks later on May 17th,CERC directed Northern states like Punjab,Haryana and U.P to restrict their usage/drawl within their specified schedule to LDC,therby maintaining the security of grid. But no action was taken from the aforesaid states owing to political interferences and various other factors which will be taken up later.Moreover,NRLDC issued 319 warnings to these states during the period. Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Punjab and Jammu & Kashmir were the prominent ones.So, the grid collapse was hardly sudden and states repeatedly ignored warnings knowingly well that under Articles 142 of the Electricity Act, the maximum penalty is . 1 lakh per violation — what a travesty this is.

Well before jumping in to WHY-WHY Analysis lets see how the Grid works:

Grid Management !!

The Power Grid Corporation of India oversees the distribution of power via its transmission network spread across the country. It has 95,009 circuit-km of transmission network, 1,36,358 MVA  transformation capacity and approximately 28,000 MW inter-regional power transfer capacity. India is divided into five electrical regions, namely, Northern (NR), Eastern (ER), Western (WR), Southern (SR) and North-Eastern (NER). Of these, the four zones NR, ER, WR and NER are inter-connected, and form what is known as the New Grid. The Southern zone is synchronously interconnected to the New Grid. (The further division of states is shown in the infographic). Every zone is then responsible for the power needs of the states that fall under it. There is a load dispatch centre in every zone that oversees the transfer of power from the generating plant to the states and further. Depending on the need, every state then buys power and has to adhere to the withdrawal limit.

Owing to the size of our country, and the fact that the power generating plants are scattered across the terrain, we have a very complex power transmission network in place. But its functioning, from power generation to power distribution is more or less the same across all regional zones. In each zone, power from various power plants is subjected to inter-state transmission, wherein the regional load dispatch centres monitor and control its distribution to the various states in each zone as scheduled. The next step is intra-state transmission, wherein the state load dispatch centre allocates power to various areas within the state, and then at local level. (View diagram). The power is generated at very high voltage, but stepped down at each substation.

The Frequency band of 49.5 to 50.2 has been specified by CERC for efficient working of National Grid but still most of the times the Grid is “Under performing owning to terrible conditions of frequency.

The CAUSE:

Missed Targets: India has missed every capacity addition target since 1951, underscoring the urgency behind Singh’s effort to make $400 billion in investments, or 40 percent of the total spend planned on infrastructure, over the next five years, according to Power Secretary P. Uma Shankar, the top bureaucrat in India’s power ministry, Year on Year Targets are being revised as the year proceeds.Likewise in FY 2011-12,Target revision was like 1,00,000MW to 78700MW to 56000MW. Roadblocks to Installed capacity has been mentioned in my another POST already.

Demand-Supply Gap: The average annual increase in demand in India is 75-80 terawatt hours (TWh) per year, up from 50 TWh per year just five years ago. On the other hand, the increase in generation capacity per year does not match this. From 771 TWh in 2010, the capacity to produce power jumped to 811 TWh in 2011. This is leading to an increase in the gap every year. India’s capacity to generate 811 TWh per year — coming from hydro, thermal, gas and nuclear sectors — is 10 per cent short of the demand, and is a mere fifth of China’s capacity.Also, not all of the installed capacity is able to generate power 24 x 7. According to analysis,at any given time,Indian has the capacity to produce 2,05,340 MW.Around 15,000 MW of capacity is lying idle for want of coal or natural gas.According CEA out of 89 Thermal Power Plants, 23 are not running because of shortage of coal. 

Overdrawal :The most possible cause of Grid failure was Overdrawal by Users i.e States from the  National Grid.Generally,States usually contract power purchases a day in advance. Some end up drawing more power than contracted, and are charged a penalty for the additional purchases. When a buyer draws more than its due, the frequency at which the grid operates drops, causing the system to collapse and forcing power plants connected to it to shut down.Ten north Indian power transmission companies and eight electricity dispatch centers had already been censured for drawing more power than their due between Jan. 1 and March 25 and on July 10 the states of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Punjab and Haryana were ordered by the Planning Commission to cease overdrawals from the grid to maintain its safety.On 30th and 31st July, Overdrawl was above normal and the most alarming condition was w.r.t UP. The states were violating clauses 6.4.8, 6.4.7, 5.4.2 (a) and 5.4.2 (b) of the Grid Code and Regulation 7 of the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission Regulation, 2009, and Section 29 of the Electricity Act. There were 63 instances when the frequency of the northern grid was below the permitted frequency

  • Even after Black out day,States like Haryana and UP are over drawing(Plz see the PSLDC screenshot for 1st August) and frequency graph on the Blackout time is also shown in the figure.
  • Another argument that has been put forward is the over drawl by heavy duty electric water pumps in lieu of saving the crops from scarcity of water.

What Regulations Say!!

A long document has been released by CERC in the year 2010 about the Grid maintenance rules and regulations and the same has been defined in Indian Electricity Grid Code 2005 too. Document can be referred  here. http://www.nldc.in/docs/gridcode.pdf

A Breif Analsysis and Learnings:

This is a grim situation for the Indian Power sector and some solid solutions need to be provided in order to prevent from going in to Black out scenario.

  • Norms that have been laid down by CERC need to be followed more strictly & Just like income-tax tribunals have the power to attach bank accounts of defaulters, CERC should be given more punitive power so that its decisions have the same force as that of a court decree.
  • Free Governor Mode of Operation (FGMO) should be taken in a more serious note.
  • LDC’s should check the demand schedule and thereby maintaining  the system in a streamlined way.
  • States should end the blame game and there is a need of pro activeness from the states in these matters in order to avoid these horrible situations in the near future.
  • Data speaks louder than words. Research by some consulting firms reveals that of the 89,882 MW of private power under development in 2009-10, there was no fuel linkage provided in 57%, construction hadn’t commenced in 91%, there were land acquisition issues in 80% of the cases, financial closure hadn’t happened in 90% and the EPC contract hadn’t been awarded in 86% of the projects. The situation today can, at best, be marginally better. Unless Lord Ganesha drinks milk again, private power development seems to be in all sorts of difficulties and wont kickstart easily.
  • The Electricity Act, 2003, aimed to unfetter the power sector from government control, but the states got bogged down in protests from their own electricity boards, as employees feared privatisation, and held back even basic reforms. Till date, not a single open access has been granted to the private sector under Section 42(2) of the Act.

But first, the discoms will have to be rated, not by handmaidens of the Power Finance Corp but by respected agencies with high credibility. Band-Aid reforms can’t cure cancer in any organ of the body. Cancer requires surgery and chemotherapy, in focused and controlled doses. India’s power sector has been getting Band-Aids as a proxy for bold reforms, whereas what it needs is surgery to complete the process started in 2003 with the introduction of the Electricity Act, which has been wrecked in its implementation.

Reference : Newspapers , Research Paper on FGMO(http://www.itfrindia.org/ICCIC/Vol2/528ICIPCI.pdf,)

CERC Guidelines on Grid Maintenance, Indian Electricity Grid Code.