Despite a lack of financial support by the government there has been a very considerable improvement in the power supply of Delhi, load-shedding is almost non-existent, AT & C losses have come down to 17 per cent from 60 per cent and the number of consumers has gone up, CMD of Delhi Transco Shakti Sinha tells Power Today .
The government has initiated the reform process for the sector, state DISCOMs are getting financial relief. When do you see a turnaround in a sector? Specifically, Delhi Transco concern with power transmission & distribution?
In Delhi, the power sector reforms were initiated and implemented a decade ago and we have seen substantial achievements. Certain reliefs may be necessary due to the effect of development beyond the control of the utilities, for example, considerable increases in the price of coal, losses due to regulators either not passing on the costs, or doing so inadequately. Overall, we in Delhi can look back at a job done well. The State distribution companies are generally Government owned and therefore get regular financial support from the Government under various schemes and yet in Delhi distribution companies are private entities though the government has a 49 percent shareholding in them. However, as they are private companies, they cannot access public resources like budgetary support for expansion, or even avail of the benefit of Government of India schemes like APDRP/R-APDRP, JNNURM etc. Despite the lack of financial support from the Government there has been a considerable improvement in the power supply of Delhi, load-shedding is almost non-existent, AT & C losses have come down to 17 per cent from 60 per cent and the number of consumers has gone up. The reform process would accelerate if the Government could also extend financial support to DISCOMs.
What are the major bottlenecks for the growth of the industry that must be addressed on a pertinent basis?
The major bottlenecks in the power sector is only in the generation sector due to the non-availability, and increased price of coal and gas across India. Because of this, costs of generation are going up. In addition to this, there are many generation units lying idle due to a non-availability of fuel. The availability and prices of fuel need to be rationalised for the proper growth of the power sector.
Although, policymakers and concerned authorities have shown their interest in furthering reforms in the sector but many industry players are expecting that much has to be done and the actual implementation of reforms may take a longer time. How would you assess the situation?
Projects implementation has to be closely monitored by the Center and state governments so that promoters problems are sorted out and these projects come on line on time. The Government sector should also upgrade themselves through better project management skills. Therefore, there is a need to focus on project management.
If you were asked to prioritize the reform initiatives, what kind of reform do you reckon carry a greater degree of importance?
Tariffs must be costs reflective, with timely revisions based on actual cost increases. If a certain class or category of consumers are perceived to be economically weak, who cannot afford to pay them then the Government should right away susbsidise the supply of energy to them. This makes both social and economic sense but to expect utilities to pick up the tab is not just unfair, it could lead to an eventual collapse of the sector.
India has set the target of adding 88,000 MW of generation capacity in the five years from 2012-2017. In the light of current scenario do you think that this target is achievable?
Of course it is achievable. In the last five years 54000 - 55000 MW has been added, so it is not that it cannot be done. But where will the money come from if the sector is not commercially viable.
Do you think there are constraints pertaining to availability of power equipment and also the availability of quality EPC players to cater to the requirements of increasing number of power T&D projects?
There are no constraints pertaining to availability of power equipment and also there is no dearth of availability of quality EPC players to cater to the requirements of increasing number of power T&D projects. More players will only add to the growth of the Power Sector.
There has been increasing dependence on Chinese equipment and manpower by private players. How do you see this kind of practice as an important utility? Increasingly we are seeing more and more Chinese equipments availability in the market; only time can tell if these would be successful or failures. But yes, people are apprehensive about it.
Financial year 2012-13 has been one of the most challenging years. Was it due to slow execution of power projects in the country or there were other reasons according to you?
The slow execution of power projects in the country, increased prices and lack of adequate availability of gas and coal for power generation. A number of generating plants are coming up but due to shortage of coal and gas they are not operating at their full capacity. Government of Indias proactive intervention is required to come out of this crisis otherwise this situation can only worsen.
What targets have you set for capacity expansion while dealing with power deficit in Delhi?
The demand of power in Delhi is increasing due to rising income levels and affordability. Our total requirement has more than doubled over the last decade; the transmission system has to be strengthened to cope with this increasing demand. The peak demand of Delhi went up to 5,642 MW in July 2012, which was been successfully met. At present DTL has sufficient carrying capacity to meet the load and we are augmenting it at such places where demand is growing very fast. Apart from adding new substations and lines the existing network is being renovated and modernized. Delhi Transco is using modern technologies such as GIS sub station in place of AIS sub station and laying underground cables. The concept of smart grid is also being taken for implementation.
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