Uninterrupted power supply is one of the most important election issues in the country. Data shows that while the overall energy deficit in the country has come down to less than 1% in 2016-17, the aggregate losses are still a huge concern.
Uninterrupted power supply is one of most the important election issues in the country. Even in the recent UP election, the issue of power supply was raised in various election rallies. Almost every sphere of life is affected by uninterrupted power supply or the lack of it. States that have enough power make it a point to highlight this in their bid to promote Industry & Investment. While the aggregate power deficit in the country has decreased from 8.5% in 2011-12 to 0.7% in 2016-17, Transmission and Distribution (T&D) losses also referred to as Aggregate Technical & Commercial (AT&C) losses are still above 20% in 2015-16.
Power Deficit in the country
At an all India level, the power deficit has significantly decreased from 8.5% in 2011-12 to 0.7% in 2016-17. Both the power generation and demand has gone up significantly during this six-year period. While the supply has increased by about 32%, the demand has gone up by around 22% during this period. In fact, India also supplied 2991 million units of energy to Bangladesh between April and November of 2016.
Among the various regions of the country, the western region’s deficit has become zero in 2016-17 from 11.4% in 2011-12. The deficit in the south is also close to zero in 2016-17 from a high of 15.5% in 2012-13. The North-East still has a deficit of 2.8% in 2016-17, the highest in the country.
Power Deficit in States
It is interesting to note that the states that had the most power deficit kept changing each year from 2011-12 to 2016-17. In 2011-12, Meghalaya had a 25% deficit followed by Jammu & Kashmir. In 2012-13, Jammu & Kashmir had a 25% power deficit, the highest for any state. Starting 2013-14, Jammu & Kashmir had the highest power deficit of all the states till 2016-17.
There has been a remarkable improvement in the power supply for many states during these years. In 2011-12, there were 6 States/UTs with a power deficit of more than 15%. In 2012-13, this number reduced to 5 and it further reduced to 2 in 2013-14. This again increased to 5 States/UTs in 2014-15. In both 2015-16, Jammu & Kashmir and Andaman & Nicobar Islands are the only ones with a power deficit of more than 15%. In 2016-17, these two were the only places with a deficit of more than 5%.
Losses are still a huge concern
In India, power distribution to the last mile is done by the Distribution Companies, popularly known as Discoms. Every state has one or more Discoms in charge of power distribution. Some states like Uttar Pradesh have six Discoms while some other states like Maharashtra has a single Discom.
Traditionally, losses in the power sector are accounted as Transmission & Distribution losses (T&D). These losses are accounted as a percentage of output. T&D losses, as a measure of grid losses, have been replaced by Aggregate Technical and Commercial (AT&C) Losses for better clarity. T&D losses together with loss in revenue collection give AT&C losses.
As per information available with the government, the following are the major factors responsible for AT&C losses.
- Technical Losses
- Overloading of existing lines and substation equipment
- Low HT: LT lines ratio- Higher amount of current flow in the system results in higher losses.
- Poor repair and maintenance of equipment
- Non-installation of sufficient capacitors/reactive power equipment
- Commercial Losses
- Low metering/billing/collection efficiency
- Theft, pilferage of electricity and tampering of meters
- Low accountability of employees
- Absence of Energy Accounting and Auditing
At an All-India level, the total losses have come down from 26.63% in 2011-12 to 21.81% in 2015-16. It is clear that the fruits of increased power generation will not reaped unless there is serious effort towards reducing losses. Even in 2015-16, there are 17 States/UTs with aggregate losses exceeding 25%. In other words, out of the 100 units of energy supplied, the government is able to account less than 75 units in these places. South of India is the only region in the country where every State/UT has an aggregate loss of less than 20%. In all other regions, there are places with losses exceeding 30% as well. In Jammu & Kashmir, Bihar & Arunachal Pradesh, the aggregate losses are close to 50%.