The private sector added 4,301 MW (April-October 2011), more than what was added by Central and state sector utilities put together, said Dr Pramod Deo, Chairperson and Chief Executive, Central Electricity Regulatory Commission, at the conference in Delhi. R Srinivasan reports.The two-day Power Today conference was held at Hotel Sheraton in Delhi based on the theme of ‘Restructuring India’s power sector, new Open Access, equipment import duty and scaling the SEB hurdle’. Delivering the welcome address, Pratap Vijay Padode, Editor in Chief – Power Today and MD, ASAPP Media Information Group, drew a parallel between challenges faced by the power sector and lighting of the inaugural lamp's wick - that the power sector faces issues but that they are not beyond control.The conference chair Dr Pramod Deo, Chairperson and Chief Executive, Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC), in his address on ‘Increasing private participation in generation: A policy and regulation update’ said, “Private sector participation has a key role to play in the power sector and the growth story of India as a whole. One of the major thrust areas of the Electricity Act was to encourage private investment in generation. Presently, the private generation capacity has reached about 23 per cent of the installed capacity. In the last 2 years 5,500 MW and 7,700 MW of private generation capacity addition has come up. It is expected that private sector contribution to generation capacity would cross 50 per cent in the 12th Plan. Private sector investments have been fuelling the generation sector despite the ever-growing problems of fuel shortages and funding woes. During April-October 2011 the private sector added 4,301 MW, more than what was added by the Central and state sector utilities put together.”About distribution companies (discoms) he said, “Financial viability of discoms is increasingly becoming a matter of concern for investments in power generation. Power sector reforms at the state level are the need of the hour. There is an urgent need to undertake to undertake tariff revisions on a regular basis, ensure tariff adequacy and rationalise tariffs. Model tariff regulations have been evolved by the Forum of Regulators to address the issues of financial viability of discoms and other related issues.”About trading and power exchanges he said, “More than 900 industrial consumers are procuring electricity through power exchanges under the Open Access regime. During 2010-11 these consumers procured almost 4.15 billion units of electricity at a competitive price of Rs 2.74 per unit. The prices in the short term market have seen a downward trend since the inception of power exchanges.”RK Kaul, Consultant and former Joint Adviser (Power), Planning Commission of India, was the guest of honour.The third Power Today conference debated and sought answers to several issues that plague the sector (See box on the next page) and to understand existing trends and project the latest ones.The conference spoke of greater private participation in transmission and distribution (T&D) since the sector aims to achieve 50 per cent private participation by 2017.Also, during the panel discussions the speakers had a heated argument over vital issues such as the equipment import policy and also commented on the grid evacuation issue during the Q&A session (after the session on T&D) which was held on day two of the conference.The conference came close on the heels of the Union Budget 2012-13. The sector needs more such debates at this critical juncture in time when the power sector faces issues due to discoms undergoing a financial crunch, fuel linkages, environmental clearances, AT&C losses and many more.TOPICS COVERED AT THE EVENT• Understanding the power of power markets• Power and fuel exchanges • Peaking power stations and time-of-day tariffs• Energy saving and heat recovery• Provisions and limitations on PPA contracts• New Open Access’ regulation: A new game changing reform?• Challenges in smart grids • Challenges to IPP’s in thermal power project development • Power equipment: The imported vs. domestic debate (Panel discussion)• Where the power sector needs to invest• Training and manpower needs in the power sector• Investments in T&D • Challenges in large power projects• Commercial incentives and predictability in renewable energy • The distribution and pricing debates• Financial health of discoms: Ways forward• PPP models in distribution – Key challenges• Calorific value-based pricing of coal • Managing the new risks in India’s power sector• Perspectives to new policies • Tariff-based competitive bidding • Trans-national transmission connectivities• Macro-perspective on renewable energy• Mitigating AT&C losses: A discom’s perspective• Adequacy of inter and intra-state transmission infrastructure (Panel discussion)(A detailed version of this article will later be available on our website: www.powertoday.in)
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