Rural Electrification- a distant dream !

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Rural_Electrification.jpegRural Electrification has been one of the key focus areas for the current government.The vision of “Power for All” has been shining brightly in the eyes of government and it aims to electrify all villages by May 2018.The following post will look at the current status of Rural Electrification and various initiatives taken by the government to achieve this target.

Meaning of Electrification

As per the earlier definition of Rural electrification “A village is classified as electrified if electricity is being used within its revenue area for any purpose what. so-ever..” However, the definition needs some revision and the overall purview of Electrification is currently amended definition of Electrification as follows :

Thus,as per the above definition it requires only 10 % of the households in a village to be connected for it to be classified as “electrified”. This implies that even if a large number of households remain un-electrified after covering 10%, still the village will qualify to be called as “Electrified”moreover, the definition doesn’t specify the minimum number of hours of electricity supply in the villages.

Initiatives/Schemes in Rural Electrification

Prima-facie, a couple of major steps have been taken by the earlier government and the current government.Some of these are :

  1. Establishment of REC (Rural Electrification Corporation) : REC was established in the 1969 with the objective of providing finance and promoting finance and promoting rural electrification across the country.Its main objective is to finance and promote rural electrification projects all over the country. It provides financial assistance to State Electricity Boards, State Government Departments and Rural Electric Cooperatives for rural electrification projects as are sponsored by them.
  2. RGGVY (Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana) It was launched in April 2005 for attaining the National Common Minimum Program  goal of providing access to electricity to each and every household within a period of 5 years.The scheme was to officially end in 2009 ,however, due to non-attainment of the targets, certain allocation were made for the continuation in the 12th plan period (2012 -17). In terms of achieving the targets of lighting up unelectrified villages, the performance was much better in the initial years than in the last three years of the program.
  3. DDUGY(DeenDayal Upadhyaya Gram jyoti Yojana) : In Dec’14, the government announced DDUGY with some modification to the RGGVY scheme already in progress.It aims feeder segregation and strengthening of sub-transmission and distribution infrastructure in rural areas including metering of distribution transformers/feeders/consumers part from electrification of unelectrified villages,household.
    Villages Electrified
    Source :DDUGJY


    Current Status

As per the revised targets set by REC vis-a-vis government of India , 2,21,424 villages to be electrified out of which 95,977 have already been electrified ( Dated 20.04.2016 ) . Nine states (AP , Goa , Haryana, Kerala,Maharashtra,Punjab,Sikkim and Tamil Nadu) have achieved 100 % of the village electrification.Bihar is the worst performer in terms of household electrification. While 97 percent of the Bihar’s village are electrified, only 12 percent homes have electricity connections.

Targets 31.03.16
Targets of Balance Un-electrified Villages as on 31.03.2016
 Dilemma of Electrified and “Electricity”
As mentioned earlier around 98 % of the total inhabited villages have been electrified in India till dated but only around 64 % of he households have electricity connections. Many institutions have come up with independent research reports targeting the reality checks of the rural electrification program. A recent report by CEEW states in its report namely “Access to Clean Cooking Energy and Electricity, Survey of states” that only 4-5 % of households get supply for 20 hours or more.  This implies that a large part of electrification and energy access are superficial and the same needs to be cross-verified by third party agencies.
The benefits of energy access and security are no doubt immense as the electricity to distant villages has lead to significant improvements in the living standards of the villagers.In impoverished and undeveloped areas, even small amount of electricity have freed up large amounts of human time and effort.With the advent of rural electrification, use of kerosene oil has seen a significant dip in the recent years ,leading to and environment friendly solution.To ensure energy security in rural areas , a strategy needs to be evolved targeting :
  • Location specific technologies like solar,wind,mini-hydel so that target of electrification reach the granular level of society.
  • Technological improvement required at the micro level so that the systems are well maintained over longer duration with requisite maintenance strategies.
  • Last but not the least, there are still so many villages across India which have not experience the word “Electricity” and they are to be helped with utmost priority.

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( 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( 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( 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.(
  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 ( 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

Is GCV Method apt for Indian Scenario??

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The average cost of coal production in India is steadily increasing, despite increase in
productivity. The coal pricing mechanism is not consistent with the international practice.
Prior to nationalization in 1973, coal prices were set administratively low in comparison
to the production cost leading to losses for many coal mining companies. To allay some
of these losses government set up the Bureau of Industrial Cost & Prices in 1970 to
recommend the appropriate price of coal, based on the average of production cost of all
mines which led to problem for the coal companies with high production cost. In 2000 a new
Colliery order was passed for deregulating the prices of all the grades of coal and Ministry of
Coal will no longer involved in setting the price of coal. According to the order each coal
company is allowed to set its own sale price based on the prevailing market prices.
The recent move of Coal India to resort to fix sale price of coal on Gross Calorific Value (GCV)
rather than on useful heat value of the fuel will have a direct impact on the sale price. This
clearly indicates that Colliery order which is still in place, but only on the paper as the prices
are still being guided by the Government. Though the GCV practice is very much consistent
with the International practice, we need to address one main question as far as India is
concerned: Do we have the proper infrastructure in the place which can accommodate this
practice? As per CIL, the move will have negligible effect where as NTPC claimed that their
coal bill will be rise by 40% from ` 20, 000 Cr to ` 28, 000 Cr. Also there is no clarity on the
method which is to be adopt by CIL for classification, sampling and analysis to finalize the
grade of coal or GCV band of mine. Another important question which raises concern that
why Coal India has gone for GCV analysis on its own where as the Office of The Coal
Controller is the authorized body for declaring the grades and ascertaining the coal
availability. NTPC the largest consumer of coal has requested the Power Ministry to take up
Tthe issue with Coal Ministry. But, all goes in vain as Coal India moved to the new system from
January 1, 2012.
Many of the public utilities have complained that this new system had resulted for wrong
classification of coal because the quality of the same coal which they were getting before 31
December, 2011 as 4200 GCV now they are procuring as 5300 GCV. This points the accusing
finger on the classification procedure and implementation of GCV by CIL. Companies have to
pay much higher prices for the same quality coal than what is required. It is good to keep
pace with international practices but to implement it blindly without proper planning is
surely not a justifiable move by CIL.