ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Electricity Reforms in India

The success of electricity reforms in India will depend critically upon the existence of some sort of restraining or disciplining mechanism in the sector, in the absence of which current efforts will likely result in a transition from inefficient public ownership to profit-gouging monopolies or oligarchies. In principle, such a mechanism could be strong, independent and effective regulatory oversight over public or private monopolies or significant competition among a large number of public and private entities. But it is important to examine without bias, and as thoroughly as possible, the feasibility and effectivness of both these sector-disciplining mechanisms before making any claims regarding the desirability of privatisation. The authors also argue that issues related to protecting the environment, extending access to the poor and other off-grid populations and strategic concerns related to import dependence and foreign private ownership need to be addressed upfront in order for the reforms to be in the broader public interest. [This paper is dedicated to the memory of Stephen R Bernow, 1942-2003.]

Tanir Bavi: How Not to Sign PPAs

The power purchase agreement (PPA) in respect of the Tanir Bavi power project has been the subject of conflict and litigation. This is because the PPA is complicated and confusing. An attempt is made in this article to analyse the PPA and the dimensions of the conflicts and to draw some lessons for policy for the government and strategy for independent power producers (IPPs).

Electricity Regulatory Commissions

Rationalisation of tariffs is perhaps the most important prerequisite of viability of the power sector. An important step was taken in this behalf in 1998 by enactment of a legislation for the setting up of the electricity regulatory commissions (ERCs) at the centre and in the states. But the experience of the functioning of the ERCs so far is far from satisfactory. It is now imperative that ERCs take a strong position and refuse to entertain the submissions of SEBs and licensees for tariff revisions till their reasonable directives are complied with. It is time the ERCs made full use of the penal powers available under the concerned legislation. For what is at stake is not only the viability and the future of the power sector but also the credibility of the ERCs

Power Sector Reforms: If Wishes Were Horses

Comprehensive power sector reforms, particularly in the transmission and distribution segments, have been discussed at least since 1993 when a Committee of the National Development Council comprising six chief ministers was set up. Conferences of chief ministers/power ministers were held in 1996, 1998, 2000 and 2001. However, in spite of the hardy ritual of conferences and resolutions without any seriousness of purpose - just to give the appearance of progress where there is in fact none - there is no light at the end of the tunnel. In fact the tunnel seems to get darker and longer each year.

Electricity Bill 2001

The Electricity Bill 2001 is a step forward in removing the anomalies, inconsistencies and even contradictions in and between existing laws pertaining to the power sector. But it fails to impose deterrent punishments for failures on matters ranging from theft and quality to payment of bills by distributing companies. It has provisions which will violate the transparent functioning of regulatory commissions. While the bill will enable the creation of markets, facilitate the process of private investment in transmission, improve grid discipline and ease somewhat the working of the regulatory commissions, success in improving the supply and quality of electricity and the financial performance of the power sector will depend, in the ultimate analysis, on the speed with which the state electricity boards can be made financially viable. On this the bill has no contribution to make.
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