Power Today witnessed and partnered the Indian power sector for another year. So we are in a position to begin with a question: Have reforms in infrastructure and power really become as dangerously elusive as the media would have us believe? Ask the practitioners, and they will agree that there is a braking of systems, but a grinding halt? Hell, no. While the broad focus may be on execution and cleaning up the discom books at the government levels, private deals are happening, orders trickling in.
Last year was one of revelations (not really, if you consider we all knew it was just the proverbial Damocles' Sword). The big emphasis on discom restructuring meant the entire financial model of the public power industry was under the scanner. This led to a central whisper to public sector banks to restructure on properly projected viability.
So tariff revision reluctantly followed. Tariff revision for utilities using imported coal, removing bottleneck for fuel supply, discouraging Chinese imports by barring ECB in Chinese currency were also initiatives over the year largely founded on domestic production worries and a strong and organised domestic manufacturers' push. Allowing loans to UMPPs to be bracketed under secured loans is all very well, but we hope it is just the first, pilot step, to be quickly followed by bringing all non-captive power loans under secure loans. Perhaps a rider is warranted to ensure the loan stays healthy the restructuring activity should act as an auditable document before a loan is approved or sanctioned.
In other words, the RBI can help the sector some more. New bidding norms are on the anvil as a new committee is set up to work on it. The government has also planned to make these norms stringent by barring all non-core sector companies from participating in the bidding process. As per the new proposal, only those companies with technical expertise will be allowed for bidding. This stringency and provisions are welcome to ensure some stability and fairness to the business.
If the bigger brothers thermal and nuclear have their woeful tale to tell, even green energy is undergoing a churning. Solar players met Planning Commission's Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia recently since solar sits in uncertainty of whether, not when, the new phase of the National Solar Mission (JNNSM) will get a move on. Given the proximity to elections, it is understood that the scheme is on slow-mo for the moment.
As for foreign investment, a senior US government official summed it up by shaking her head. Corruption and tough entry barriers make it very difficult, she told us.
So, like everyone else, we resignedly await the elections. Meanwhile, we extend our wishes to our stakeholders, readers, subscribers and advertisers for maintaining strong bonds for five consecutive years. To commemorate our fifth anniversary, we have featured the best performing power players and those within the organisations who made it possible. Thank you very much for being a part of Power Today's growth and learning. We have tried to be informative, insightful and sometimes critical but never on one side of the fence or the other. We realise have a long way to go, but then, perfection is relative anyway.
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