Over 90% families have electricity meters, billed regularly: CEEW study

As many as 93 per cent of families have metered electricity connections and 91 per cent of households are billed regularly for power consumption, as per two independent studies released by the CEEW.

The studies are based on findings from India Residential Energy Survey (IRES) 2020 conducted by the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) in collaboration with Initiative for Sustainable Energy Policy (ISEP).

IRES, which covered nearly 15,000 households across 152 districts in 21 states, is the first-ever pan-India survey on the state of energy access, consumption and energy efficiency in Indian homes.

"93 per cent of grid-electrified Indian households had metered connections and 91 per cent were billed regularly according to two independent studies released today by the CEEW," the council said in a statement.

According to the statement, the studies also found that 77 per cent of grid users were satisfied with their electricity services.

Further, consumer satisfaction in the rural areas of Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal had more than tripled from 23 per cent in 2015 to 73 per cent in 2020.

The studies, which also examined energy efficiency in Indian households, found that 88 per cent of Indian homes had LED bulbs on the back of the government's Unnat Jyoti by Affordable LEDs for All (UJALA) scheme and other state government initiatives.

Sanjay Malhotra, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Power, said, "While a 77 per cent satisfaction rate is high given the increasing expectations, a 23 per cent unsatisfaction rate is also a significant number".

"Our focus is now going to be on quality, reliability and consumer satisfaction to increase satisfaction rates from 77 per cent to 90 per cent and even higher. We are setting up a committee to develop a framework to rank the distribution companies. Improving satisfaction rates, and viability and sustainability of discoms is very important," he added.

State-run discoms lose almost a rupee per unit sold. Electricity is an enabler, and they need to improve the wherewithal of the discoms while simultaneously providing electricity to poorer households, Malhotra said.

The CEEW studies also found that 97 per cent of Indian households were connected to the grid, with another 0.33 per cent exclusively relying on off-grid electricity sources such as solar home systems, solar mini-grids, and battery storage.

However, an estimated 2.4 per cent of Indian households remained unelectrified. Most of such households were concentrated in the rural areas of Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Bihar.

Further, the studies found that the inability to afford grid-electricity was a key reason for these households to not have a connection.

There was an improvement in metering in several states, including a six-fold improvement in Uttar Pradesh, the studies said.

However, billing issues remained pronounced in rural areas, adding to the burden of discoms' poor finances.

The studies found that Jharkhand had the lowest share of grid users billed regularly (55 per cent), followed by Bihar (64 per cent). Billing irregularities were high in Assam, Uttar Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh as well.

Given the poor payment rates across many states, power utilities must facilitate direct and indirect digital payment mechanisms by leveraging micro-entrepreneurs, such as grocery shops and general merchants, the studies added.

The CEEW studies found that only 17 per cent of billed consumers pay their bills digitally (27 per cent in urban India and 12 per cent in rural India). This was despite the fact that 70 per cent of Indian households had a smartphone.

An average Indian household received 20.6 hours of power supply from the grid. Urban households received 22 hours of power supply, the studies said.

However, the studies found that two-thirds of rural and two-fifths of urban households face outages at least once a day.

Households in Delhi, Kerala, and Gujarat receive more than 23 hours of daily supply, while households in Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Haryana, Assam, and Bihar face the longest power outages.

India is yet to achieve access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all, it said.

To achieve this Sustainable Development Goal, in addition to identifying and electrifying the remaining 2.4 per cent households, CEEW studies recommend focusing on sustaining electricity use in an affordable manner.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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