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Power Sector in 2017: The Year in Review

Power Sector

India’s status as an emerging economy, and as one of the fastest growing economies in the world, entails an ever-increasing need for power. Not only would the demand for electricity only grow in the country but the power sector needed action in several areas, in terms of both fixing what does not work as well as building what was necessary.

In the last three years, we have seen something like a 360-degree approach to the power sector. It was recognised that largescale intervention would be needed.

Providing 24×7 electricity across the country became a very important objective. Along with that, power generation had to be increased, transmission and distribution had to be strengthened. Therefore, we would be looking at not only capacity addition but also increasing the energy efficiency of existing infrastructure and reducing power loss.

The approach adopted has had several points of focus, which only demonstrate its roundedness:

  • Rural Electrification: Special focus under Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY)
  • Urban Electrification: Special focus under Integrated Power Development Scheme (IPDS)
  • Household Electrification: Saubhagya scheme launched to ensure electricity for every household; March 31, 2019 is the target for Universal Household Electrification
  • Sectoral Focus: Policy and action have ensured advancements in thermal and hydel power sectors, as well as remarkable progress in solar, wind and other renewable energy sectors
  • Transmission & Distribution: Both strengthened; feeder separation and metering of power to consumers done
  • Accountability & Transparency: Mobile apps and web portals launched, such as URJA app, SAUBHAGYA portal, National Power Portal, MERIT portal

The following infographic provides the highlights of the power sector in 2017:

Power Sector

Let us next look in some detail about the trends in some of the key and most-discussed areas in the power sector.

Rural Electrification:

Rural electrification has been an area of special attention. We have seen steady progress under the DDUGJY, under which, as on November 30, 2017, 15,183 of the 18,452 unelectrified Census villages have been electrified, with 1,052 villages reported uninhabited.

Now, it has often been said that electrification of a village is not the same as door-to-door electrification. While that is correct, an important distinction that must be kept in mind is that, as per the definition, a village is electrified as soon as it is connected to the grid. The next step is intensive door-to-door electrification.

Intensive electrification was in any case being carried out and, cumulatively, as on November 30, 2017, electrification in 1,24,219 villages and intensive electrification in 4,68,827 villages had been completed.

Saubhagya Scheme:

But the government launched the Saubhagya (Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana) in September this year to speed up the process of intensive electrification and provide electricity to every household where it had not yet reached, provided it is desired.

Saubhagya, of course, concerns both rural and urban electrification. Under it, free electricity connections are being given to all unelectrified and deprived/ BPL rural households (identified on the basis of SECC 2011 data). In urban areas, economically poor households would be covered. Unelectrified households not covered by the SECC data can also avail electricity connections under Saubhagya with a payment of Rs 500. This amount will be recovered by the power discoms in 10 instalments by means of the electricity bill. Unelectrified households in remote and/ or inaccessible areas are to be given SPV-based standalone systems with LED lights, fan, power plug, etc.

Saubhagya is about last-mile connectivity and the logical next step mentioned earlier. The total outlay for Saubhagya is Rs 16, 320 crore. The gross budgetary support (GBS) is Rs 12,320 crore.

The target for universal household electrification is March 30, 2019.

Urban Electrification:

The provision of 24×7 electricity to urban areas is powered by the Integrated Power Development Scheme (IPDS). Let’s look at the data from IPDS:

  • Projects valued at Rs 26,910 crore covering 3,616 towns sanctioned
  • Rs 23,448 crore worth of works awarded by state utilities
  • Under Restructured Accelerated Power Development and Reforms Programme (R-APDRP), 1,363 towns have been declared “Go-Live”
  • SCADA control systems set up in 52 towns
  • 20 SCADA towns completed and 20 of 21 Data Centres commissioned under Part-A of the programme
  • Part-B projects completed in 970 towns

The important point to note about the progress under IPDS is that the technical (including IT) intervention via IPDS is designed to not only ensure 24×7 electricity but also improve billing-collection efficiency. The end result should be lower Aggregate Technical and Commercial (AT&C) losses.

UDAY Scheme:

The Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yojana (UDAY) targets the financial and operational turnaround of power discoms which have not been in very good health on the whole. Launched in November 2015, UDAY aimed at a solution to the Rs 4.3 lakh crore debt burden as well as mitigate potential losses. The scheme also looks at reforms in the major sectors noted above, such as power generation, transmission and distribution, energy efficiency, etc.

With Nagaland, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Dadra & Nagar Haveli & Daman & Diu coming on board on November 20, 2017, the total number of states and UTs under UDAY has risen to 27 and 4 respectively.

Hydroelectricity Projects:

The hydroelectricity sector has generated quite a debate in 2017, not least because of activist anger at hydel projects. Nevertheless, India is looking at 11 hydel projects, with a total installed capacity of 1,305 MW which are likely to be commissioned within 2017-18.

As on November 30, 2017, 7 of these projects, with a total installed capacity of 465MW, were already commissioned. The rest are targeted for commissioning by March 2018.

In terms of production data, hydropower generation stood at 120.87BU (January to November 2017).


The draft National Electricity Plan (Transmission) has been prepared. The period under its purview is 2017 to 2022 and it seeks to address the projected peak demand of 226GW by 2021-22. The plan includes inter-regional transmission links. In other words, the government has set in motion the reforms that would be needed to bulwark and strengthen power transmission in India.


To boost the conservation of energy, the National LED Programme was launched in January 2015. It consists of major schemes:
a) Unnat Jyoti by Affordable LED for All (UJALA)
b) Street Lighting National Programme (SLNP)

Ujala aims at providing LED bulbs to domestic consumers, with a target of replacing 77 crore incandescent bulbs with LED bulbs. SLNP aims at replacing 1.34 crore conventional streetlights with smart and energy-efficient LED streetlights by March, 2019.

By recourse to the Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) model, municipalities can replace conventional lights minus any upfront cost. The balance is made up by simply monetising the savings in energy. Domestic consumers, on the other hand, can buy LED lights at Rs 10 and pay the balance via instalments in the electricity bill.

That the model adopted for UJALA and SLNP have been remarkably successful is borne out by the data:

LED Bulbs Distributed/ Streetlights Installed (Units) 28.07 crore 41.79 lakh
Average Annual Energy Savings 36.45 billion kWh 2.80 billion kWh
Peak Demand/ Capacity (Avoided) 7,299 MW 467 MW
GHG Emission & CO2 Reduction (Annual) 29.53 million TCO2 1.93 million TCO2

These two schemes have come to form an integral part of India’s energy conservation efforts even as India embarks on big and long-term structural and legal changes to guarantee and bolster energy conservation, such as the updated Energy Conservation Building Codes (ECBC 2017) launched in June this year, or the third cycle of the Perform, Achieve and Trade (PAT) Scheme which began on April 1, 2017.

Accountability & Transparency:

Last but not least, a very important intervention among the most discussed topics related to the power sector is what has been done to boost transparency and sectoral accountability.

Let us then look at some of the portals and apps that have been launched to ensure precisely the same.

URJA (Urban Jyoti Abhiyan) Mobile App: Offers information on consumer complaints redress, new service connections, number and duration (average) of interruptions faced by consumers, e-payments, AT&C losses, IT enablement (Go-Live of towns), SCADA Implementation, etc.

Saubhagya portal: Launched on November 16, 2017, to enable transparent monitoring of the Universal Household Electrification project.

National Power Portal: Launched on November 14, 2017, as “a Centralised Platform for Collation and Dissemination of Indian Power Sector Information”. It is single-point interface for all power sector apps.

MERIT portal: The MERIT (Merit Order Despatch of Electricity for Rejuvenation of Income and Transparency) was launched in June this year. It displays actual data of dispatched generation by states and provides an opportunity to states for improving power purchase portfolios.

N.B. To get the full picture on the power sector and electricity, we need to also take detailed note of the data from new and renewable energy sector. The same will covered in a separate entry from The True Picture


For details about rural electrification, Saubhagya, UDAY and UJALA, also read:
UDAY’s Performance Indicators: For the Benefit of Those Who Call it a Disappointment,
Saubhagya for All: A Scheme to Connect the Last Mile to the Electrical Grid,
Is India’s Rural Electrification Scheme ‘Ailing’ as Hindustan Times Claims?,
What Does ‘Electricity for All’ Really Mean? Some Facts for ‘The Hindu’ and ‘Scroll.in’
UJALA Goes to Malaysia: The Story of an International Model Designed by India