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Editorial | September 2016

Power for All

Our magazine, Power Today, has completed eight years of partnership with the stakeholders in the country´s power sector. These eight years have been an exciting journey for us, rich in learning, vibrant in diversity, and rigorous in terms of analysis. This being as good a time as any, to take stock of the journey so far, we took this opportunity to review the last five anniversary issues, only to find that the sector has been consistently hamstrung by one or the other debilitating issues of national dimensions, resulting in a not-so-exciting lacklustre performance - all of which we have dutifully reported and debated.

Clearly, it has not been a particularly invigorating period of time for the industry. So this year, we thought of identifying and highlighting a positive development in the power sector, that may not only bode well for the industry and the economy, but may also be an inclusive instrument of social justice.

While India ranks a proud third among the top ten global producers of electricity, when it comes to per capita consumption of electricity, we score a paltry 900 kWh as against a global average of about 3,000 kWh. It is often said that millions of our countrymen do not have access to electricity, but in terms of government statistics, at the beginning of 2015-16, only 18,500 villages out of a total of 587,000 villages, remained to be electrified.

So it was, that a vision of ¨Power for All¨ was articulated and a concrete plan to electrify these last 18,000 villages was drawn up by the government. Depending on the difficulty level associated with penetrating the ¨last mile¨, about 20 per cent of these villages were to be powered by off-grid renewable energy sources, and the rest were to be connected to the grid. Significant progress has been achieved in this mission, and the last such village is likely to get electricity by December 2016. Most states have already claimed to have covered 95 to 100 per cent of their villages. This is no mean feat.

However, we may be at risk of celebrating too early, if the real objective was to electrify homes and illuminate lives. Because, we find that there is a gap between electrification of villages and electrification of households. This is borne out by government statistics, which says there are still 70 to 80 million homes in our country languishing without electricity. Obviously, electrification of all our villages is a necessary but not sufficient condition for the last man to receive power, and while we are well on our way to achieve a major victory over darkness in 2016, we may have to wait till we plan and implement another mission to really reach electricity to all our village households, when we can finally announce our true and final victory over darkness.

This issue also brings you Power 20:20, the league of 20 companies and 20 people who have made a mark during 2015-16 going by various parameters, for the 8th year in a row. Power 20:20 has been compiled with the active research support of Feedback Infra Private Limited (FIPL), our Knowledge Partner. The study has thrown up some unlikely winners in Jammu & Kashmir State Power Development Corporation Ltd (JKSPDCL) and GMR Energy, which were adjudged as ´Highest Growth Generation Company in Hydro´ in the public sector and ´Highest Growth Generation Company in Coal/Gas/Nuclear´ in the private sector respectively. The takeaways are interesting, to say the least. Do write in with your feedback on the findings.

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