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Cover Story | January 2018

Power Today Person of the Year

Energy efficiency has been on the agenda of governments and industry across the world over the last several decades. But it was after Saurabh Kumar, Managing Director, Energy Efficiency Services Ltd (EESL) developed a business proposition out of the idea that energy efficiency has got a shot in the arm. Under Kumar's stewardship, EESL has made a tremendous progress not just in introduction of LED lighting on a mass scale, but in revolutionising the way electricity is used in the country. The company is making a foray into markets like United Kingdom (UK) and Malaysia within four years of its inception reflects that it is the idea whose time has come.

An Indian Revenue Service officer of 1992 batch, Saurabh Kumar is an Electrical Engineer from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur, and did Masters in Public Policy from National Graduate Institute of Policy Studies, Tokyo, Japan. Kumar, who has worked in various capacities in Income Tax Department, Ministry of Power, and Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) was Secretary, BEE during 2007-2010. A passionate environmentalist, he has served the United Nations on deputation handling environmental issues in the Asia-Pacific Region for two years, before taking over charge as the Managing Director of EESL on May 6, 2013, after his return.

Kumar's EESL is credited with developing the concept of 'Pay as You Save' model of promoting energy efficiency. The basis of this concept is 'Efficiency Improvement' on a mass scale through adoption of energy efficiency devices which payback at the shortest possible time. That means, it does not involve any cost on the part of the customer, but he will pay back a part of the savings that accrue to him over a period of time.

It all started with LED light distribution programme under Unnat Jyoti by Affordable LEDs and Appliances for All (UJALA) scheme through power distribution companies (discoms). The phenomenal success of the programme can be gauged from 28 crore LED bulbs, 43.9 crore LED tubelights and 14.3 lakh 5-star rated energy efficient fans distributed under the scheme by November 2017. Acting as an order aggregator in procuring these devices, EESL has brought down the prices of LED bulbs from Rs.310 a piece to  Rs.38 in a couple of years. Thus, it made LEDs a household name in the country, which otherwise would have taken a decade or so, in a country where filament bulbs are still popular.

With a feather in his cap achieved through distribution to individuals, Kumar went the whole hog expanding his idea to distribution to institutions in several other areas - LED street lights, Buildings Programme, electricity meters, cooling systems, e-vehicles, solar panels etc., and replicating the success. Now, he is in the process of devising ways and means of improving efficiencies in the agriculture sector and the power looms segment of textile sector.

Responding to a Power Today query, Kumar said, 'I would say that it is an innovative finance company. We add value by creating an innovative business model and doing things right. Implementation has been our forte; if we have a deadline, we meet it.' Kumar shares the twists and turns in his journey at EESL and thoughts about the future with Power Today's Pratap Padode and Manish Pant, in an exclusive interview recently.


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17 Oct 2016
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