The new CERC norms for states on overdrawal are a welcome change after the major grid collapse last year. The norms could act as major development in preventing incidents of power blackout. But the question is: Will the states agree to abide? Purnendu Chaubey writes.
It has been more than a year after the major grid collapse. Last year in July, the northern grid collapse brought the entire nation to a standstill. The government and various regulatory bodies pondered on how to avoid such situations. It was decided to maintain grid discipline, but things went on at snail's pace.
The Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) has finally released draft norms to regulate overdrawal of power, in order to induce grid discipline in the country. The new norms may further help in preventing unwarranted grid tripping, which would be a major development for the sector in preventing incidences of power blackout. The southern grid is expected to be connected with the national grid by early next year. But according to industry experts, things are moving forward, but not at a brisk pace.
The new norms require closer synchronised operations and a narrowing of the frequency band of power output for generation stations, state grids and regional load dispatch centres. There would also be stringent volume limits on unscheduled interchange (UI) into the grid, from the level of generation units and beyond. The new rules seek to put paid to routine over drawal. Such overdrawing of electricity puts the entire system at risk and so, needs to be discouraged.
In addition to this, penal charges for overdrawing have been raised, and the norms tightened for delaying the payment improves the grid discipline.
Now the biggest question arises: Will the States abide with the norms? Seeing that most of the firms are still grappling with lack of funds and bringing down AT&C losses, it is difficult for them to abide with the norms set. State-owned power distribution companies, buckled under unviable tariff structure, are suffering from mounting losses and debt. Distribution companies have incurred a loss of around Rs 2.4 lakh crore over the past decade. The cumulative debt of distribution companies is more than Rs 1.9 lakh crore currently. In order to rescue these firms from the financial mess, the Union Government in 2012, introduced the debt restructuring scheme, which is linked to reforms like annual tariff rationalisation, reducing AT&C losses, timely release of subsidy by state governments, regular metering of supply and introducing private participation in distribution. But these schemes are yet to pick up in many states. As of April 2013, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Kerala, Meghalaya, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh expressed willingness to participate in the scheme, while others are still to join the spirit.
In another landmark development in the last one year, the Union Power Ministry had introduced ratings programme for distribution utilities to facilitate realistic assessment of their performance, strengths and weaknesses. The ratings assigned by ICRA and CARE would enable them to get loans at better interest rates based on their financial and operational strengths. These agencies would be rated on the basis of seven parameters, including financial status, meeting regulatory norms and others. Moreover, the recent developments could be a positive sign for the T&D segment and we can hope for better future growth prospects.
Status and plan for transmission
The total length of the country's transmission lines at the voltage level of 220 KV and above is 274,588 (circuit km) and the total capacity of sub-stations of the transmission system is at 220 KV and above voltage level is 473216 MVA as on March 31, 2013. The total transmission capacity of inter-regional links connecting the regional grids has increased from 14,050 MW to 27,750 MW during 2007-12 (11th plan period). During the 12th Plan and early 13th Plan period, the Central Government has planned to add a number of inter-regional transmission links of 44,800 MW. These links have been planned either as associated with the generation projects or as system strengthening schemes.
The Central Government has launched the Restructured-Accelerated Power Development and Reforms Programme (RAPDRP) during 11th Plan period (2007-12) to reduce the AT&C (average technical and commercial) losses in the country and to improve the power distribution sector of state utilities. So far, projects worth Rs 33,832.17 crore have been sanctioned under R-APDRP.
Projects under this scheme is taken up in two parts in towns having a population of over 30,000 (10,000 for special category states) according to the census 2001. Part A of the scheme is for establishing IT-enabled system for energy accounting or auditing and Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) for big cities, while Part B is for upgradation, augmentation and strengthening of electrical infrastructure in project towns. Of the Rs 33,832.17 crore spent on this scheme, Rs 6713.08 crore was spent towards Part A and Rs 27,119.09 crore was spent on Part B.
As per the Electricity Act, 2003, the functions of the Central Transmission Utility are to: ò
Status and plan for distribution
The distribution system in India is often characterised by inefficiency, low productivity, frequent interruption in supply, poor voltage, low metering levels and low cost recovery. It is assumed to be the crucial, but the weakest link in the electricity supply chain. It assumes great significance as the system has a direct bearing on the sector's commercial viability. Optimal utilisation of the investment flowing in the sector is suspected due to lack of reliable baseline data and appropriate monitoring mechanisms. There is no standard energy audit, MIS, IT solutions in place.
Accelerated Power Development and Reforms Programme (APDRP) and the Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojna (RGGVY) were initiated in the 10th Five Year Plan. The aim of these programmes is to provide access of electricity and bring down the AT&C losses to 15 per cent across the country. The concept of privatisation of distribution is also introduced through private licensees (Delhi and Odisha) and through distribution franchisees (Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh).
A turnaround in the T&D segment is critical to make the power sector commercially viable and deliver reliable power supply at a reasonable cost. The thrust on power sector reforms and implementation of policy objectives have started to bring an increased focus on automation tools. However sustained long-term efforts will be required on the part of all stakeholders like manufacturers and suppliers, EPC contractors, financing agencies, utilities, government regulators and end users. It is important to not view automation as a panacea for power sector problems, but as one essential part of a large reform process.
Estimates of physical & financial requirement for distribution during 12th Plan
Name of segment
33 KV O/H line
33 KV U/G Cable(30%) Ckt Kms 13500 4050
Total 33 KV line
11 KV O/H line
11 KV U/G cable
Total 11 KV line
Installation of new S/S
33/11 KV(2X10 MVA)
No of 10 MVA Transformers
Installtion of DTs including all accessories
Total No of DTs
Aug of Sub-Station
Re conductoring of lines
(i) 33 KV
Productive Load Scheme
IT facilities &SCADA including HRD
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