Maharashtra power distribution co to raise tariffs

(Reuters) – The Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company will raise power tariffs in the state by 16.48 percent due to high costs and rising fuel prices, the state’s electricity commission said on Thursday.

The revised tariffs will come into effect retroactively from August 1.

Maharashtra joins a growing number of state distributors including those in Tamil Nadu, Delhi and Punjab, that raised tariffs in 2012.

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Andhra Pradesh to hike wind tariff

In its hurry to promote wind power on a large scale, Andhra Pradesh is set to hike the purchase tariff of this renewable energy from the existing Rs 3.50 to Rs 4.20 per unit. This is slightly less than Rs 5 per unit, what is asked by the wind power industry. A decision on the new tariff is expected to be taken by AP Electricity Regulatory Commission (ERC) this month.

Andhra Pradesh energy principal secretary Dinesh Kumar confirmed to The Sunday Guardian that he has written to the ERC agreeing to increase the present wind power purchase tariff by 70 paisa. “This we have done keeping in view the demand of the industry as well as the need to attract more investments into this sector,” he said. AP is keen on wooing investments in wind and solar power sectors.

Similarly, AP Transco chairman and managing director Heeralal Samaria and the chairmen of four power distribution companies (Discoms) too wrote separately to the ERC expressing willingness to pay more for wind power, if it is supplied at agreed terms. Presently, the Transco is buying around 115 MW of wind power from 20 plants spread across the state. The installed capacity of wind power plants in AP is pegged at 197 MW by May 2012. The AP chapter of Indian Wind Energy Association has put the potential for wind power in the State at a whopping 14,497 MW, provided wind mills are set up at a height of 80 meters as per modern technology in the districts where wind velocity is more – Anantapur, Chittoor and Kadapa.

AP for long resisted the pressure to hike purchase tariff of wind power on grounds that the present cost of wind power generation was already too high. AP had to succumb to the persistent reminders from the Central power ministry to buy more wind power from independent wind producer. Moreover, the Transco is supposed to buy at least five per cent of its total power from renewable sources.


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2000 GW – Is this India’s Wind Power Potential?

Those were the days when we used to quote 45,000 MW as the total potential for wind power in India.

And then came many industry experts who said it could be as high as 100 GW, given the more efficient turbines that can also operate at higher altitudes.

Just when many in India are locked with CWET and other research firms on whether India’s wind power potential is 48,000 MW or 100,000 MW, here comes a nice bunch of guys from the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab (LNBL), USA, who claim Indian wind potential could be anywhere between 2000 GW to 3000 GW. That is 20-30 times the most recent estimates.

“ The new Berkeley Lab study has found the total techno-economic wind potential to range from 2,006 GW for 80-m hub heights (an indication of how high the wind turbine stands above the ground) to 3,121 GW for 120-m hub heights”, says this report.


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Solar energy to be used for irrigation

DHARWAD: The state government has launched a plan to boost the lift  irrigation projects in the state wherein it will install solar panels on irrigation canals to generate power. In the first phase, this project would be implemented in Yadgir, Raichur and Bijapur districts and then extended to other districts. The  Karnataka government took the initiative inspired by the success of a similar project implementation in Gujarat where the villages are getting uninterrupted power supply.

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FDI push to light up power trade

New Delhi, Aug. 14: The government may allow foreign investment in power trading exchanges ‘ the first of a series of reforms in power.

A draft cabinet note says the government is contemplating allowing up to 49 per cent foreign investment in the exchanges.

India has two exchanges ‘ Indian Energy Exchange and Power Exchange of India Ltd ‘ both of which do very little business as state electricity boards prefer long-term purchase deals.

The idea is to energise the moribund exchanges with fresh capital and encourage states that face power shortfall to bid for the electricity needed to meet the shortfall.

The move may encourage an orderly trading platform where SEBs participate instead of them resorting to sudden withdrawals, which on two occasions in the end of July triggered massive grid collapses in the east, north and Northeast.

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Beyond The Grid Failures

Northern Grid Failure on Monday, 30th July 2012, was big news. It became bigger next day, on Tuesday, when almost half of India went dark for over two hours with the failure of Northern, Eastern and North Eastern grids. Grid failures are rare & serious matter requiring grave introspection, detailed analysis and firm decisions to avoid recurrence. It was easy to describe reasons for these two grid failures, simply because there are a whole lot of factors, which due to lack lustre performance of power sector, were being neglected and forced analysts to classify these as Tragedy Waiting to Happen and a reminder that we are Living on the Edge.

Over drawl of Power by a few states, Supply Demand mismatch, installed generating capacity, poor health of SEBs, Outdated regulatory mechanisms, Technical and Commercial losses, Fuel supply and Transmission system are some of the reasons being attributed for these failures by Power Sector Experts. They have literally blamed the entire chain in power system, not one or two doable things for these failures. Power Sector is a victim of Policies & lack of will to take Decisions.
Traditionally Power Generation in our country had been with SEBs barring about 40,000 MW with a highly efficient NTPC. Only recently Private Sector started taking interest and boosted capacity addition in 11th plan. For 12th plan they will be adding almost 40% of proposed 76,000MW.
Presently India has installed capacity of 200,000MW compared to China’s 800,000MW. We have track record of poor project implementation, over protection of domestic vendors with stringent import regulations, misplaced environment policies, ever changing regulations for land acquisition and a PSU not competent to supply guaranteed fuel. Adding to these woes, Banks & financial institutions have started looking at Power Generation as risky investment. With all these it is going to be a tough catching up game and decades before we are able to fill the Demand Supply gap.
In a recent study international rating agency Moody has described higher than usual losses in T&D due to poor infrastructure and losses related to fraud & corruption by consumers who do not pay for the electricity they consume. It is estimated that 30% power is lost to theft and inefficiency in state distribution networks. It amounts to about 60,000MW, the load three affected grids were carrying on Tuesday afternoon when the 2nd failure happened. Post privatisation, power theft has been dealt by BSES and Tata’s in Delhi effectively by using cables to transmit power right up to consumers door steps, literally making it impossible for them to use jumpers and simultaneously imposing heavy penalty or even summary disconnection if found involved in power theft.
Our SEBs can’t take these costly but effective initiatives for want of funds. Their financial health is in dire state owing to low tariffs, increased fuel prices, non receipt/ delayed receipts from consumers. In Bihar receivables take up to 600 days i.e. almost 2 years after consuming electricity payment is made to SEB. Electricity is being sold at heavily subsidised rates to agriculture sector, which in most Northern states is the biggest consumer. And it takes long time to get subsidy from the government. It is because of the paucity of funds that SEB are not able to spend on badly needed maintenance of the local distribution system and generating plants in their state.
In India there are a large number of power plants which are old, inefficient and generating below average electricity but still being counted in 200,000MW installed capacity. This is also one of the reasons in shortfall in generation. By planned Renovation & Modernisation a new life can be infused in them providing a quick and low cost solution to bridge the demand supply gap.
Over drawl is turning out to be an easy way out for SEBs to meet their power requirements. Each Board has been allocated a quota and ideally shouldn’t exceed the limits prescribed. But it is being regularly violated with impunity as Boards find it cheaper to pay over drawl fines which are way below the prevailing market rate of Power to be sourced from Private Developers. Moreover penalty is a deferred payment unlike purchases from Power Exchange where immediate payments by transfer of funds are required. Until the over drawl fine is hiked to make it comparable with power purchase, Boards will keep violating the limits assigned regularly resulting in eventuality of grid failures during low frequency.
CERC has to be made more powerful. Their orders should have the same authority as that of a Court decree. They should raise the penalty for over drawl from present paltry Rs 1 Lakh to manifold for each violation and compounded for repeat violations. Keeping a watch on erring states should not be arduous as it is well known that Haryana, UP, Rajasthan, Punjab and J&K are the inveterate defaulters. If over drawl, which appears to be the cause for present collapse, can be checked, we shall be spared another grid failure of this magnitude in future.


About the author:

Mr Pravin Bhasin is Power Sector professional with over 40 years expereince in BHEL, L&T, Thermax & Reliance Infra.He has been associated with Thermal power projects both gas based & Coal based; small & large in India & abroad.Now he provides consultancy services on Power Sector.

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Generation of Power under JNNSM

The Union Minister of New and Renewable Energy, Dr. Farooq Abdulla, informed the Rajya Sabha in a written reply that under Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM) India is to create a capacity for generation of 1100 MW of grid connected solar power by 2013 and 20,000 MW by 2022. The overall investment may be approximately $ 40 billion for 20,000 MW of solar power projects.

The current installed generation capacity of India is 205340.26 MW which includes 24832.68 MW generated through renewable energy sources. JNNSM aims at achieving 20,000 MW by 2022 thereby it will then constitute one-tenth of India’s current installed power base. The total installed capacity in the country is likely to be more than 400 GW by 2022. Installed solar capacity then would be one-twentieth of the then India’s total installed capacity. The share of renewable and particularly solar in country’s energy mix would keep increasing and would certainly help in limiting reliance on coal and easing the power deficit.

The Minister further said that against a target of 1100 MW of grid connected solar power by 2013, 1030 MW of solar power projects have been commissioned and connected to grid, these are under both Central and State initiatives.

Issues like upgradation of transmission network, availability of unallocated power for bundling, delay in payment by DISCOMS, weak State Nodal Agencies are being focused on. A transmission network upgradation plan has been prepared by Power Grid Corporation of India Limited. Ministry of Power has been requested for giving unallocated power. Payments from DISCOMS are being monitored continuously and States are being requested to upgrade Nodal Agencies.



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Centre tells power forum to fall in line on open access

The Centre seems to have put its foot down in the wrangle with states over the issue of implementation of open access for bulk power consumers. The Union power ministry has asked the Forum of Regulators (FoR) to modify its model regulations on intra-state open access, in line with the law ministry’s opinion.

“The power ministry reiterates it direction to the central commission under Section 107 of the Electricity Act to take all necessary steps, including framing of appropriate regulations to implement the provisions of open access as per the Act in pursuance of the ministry of power letter of November 30, 2011,” the ministry has said in a recent letter.

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