During Q1 of this fiscal, peak electricity demand from Punjab, Meghalaya, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Telangana, Bihar and Odisha witnessed a steep growth. As states scramble to fulfil electrification targets mandated by Saubhagya, the demand for power has shot up.
Quoting figures by the IEX, a power update report from CARE Ratings points out that the overall peak demand and average power demand rose by eight per cent and five per cent respectively during Q1.
Despite contraction in the demand-supply gap in power since October 2017 and stabilisation in coal supplies, the additional rush in power demand fuelled by Saubhagya scheme has led to brisk activity in spot power markets. Spot market tariffs have stayed largely range bound between April and July this year though sporadic cases of coal crunch temporarily hiked tariffs.
Power deficit dogged the states of Jammu & Kashmir, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Puducherry in April-August. These states also witnessed rapid electrification of households under Saubhagya scheme. Jammu & Kashmir and Uttar Pradesh were saddled with the steepest AT&C (aggregate technical & commercial) losses at 53.8 per cent and 37.9 per cent respectively. The AT&C losses are unlikely to moderate in the year as the implementation of Saubhagya remains a top priority for states.
The nationwide AT&C losses have widened to 23.1 per cent in Q1 of this fiscal from 20 per cent in 2017-18, a grim pointer to the slippages in the implementation of the UDAY (Ujjwal Discom Assurance Yojana) scheme. Operational objectives envisaged by the schemes have also floundered. “This could be gauged from the status of completion of smart metering of lines, which stood at 0.38 million, less than 1.5 per cent of the total target to be implemented. Smart metering was expected to improve collection efficiency by minimising human intervention as well as helping consumers optimize the use of electricity during peak demand hours”, the report by CARE Ratings stated.
The Saubhagya or ‘Power for All’ scheme, launched in September 2017, targets 100 per cent electrification of all households across the country by December 2018. At the time of the announcement of the scheme, there were 32.8 million un-electrified households. A year later, 19.5 million or nearly 60 per cent of the households are still waiting to be electrified. As many as 8.8 million households were electrified during April-August period of the current fiscal. Uttar Pradesh lags other states with 31 per cent of its households not electrified yet.