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Power distribution losses rise amidst massive investment in conventional technology

By Shankar Sharma* 

It should be a matter of great concern to the people of the country that the AT&C (aggregate technical and commercial) losses of Discoms has deteriorated from 20.73 per cent in 2019-20 to 22.32 per cent in 2020-21. AT&C can be viewed as a measure of the overall efficiency of technical and commercial operation of the industry.
'The Report on Performance of Power Utilities in 2020-21' unveiled at state power ministers' conference in Udaipur also stated that overall AT&C (aggregate technical and commercial) losses of discoms deteriorated from 20.73 per cent in 2019-20 to 22.32 per cent in 2020-21.
Whereas the overall efficiency of the power sector in the country is struggling to go below 20%, as against the global best practice of only about 5%, it must be seen as a monumental waste of our resources (both the financial as well as other kinds of resources) that our authorities are investing massively in conventional technology electricity generation sources such as coal, gas, dam based hydro and nuclear power plants along with all the associated infrastructure.
Even if only 50% of such massive investments is diverted to renewable energy (RE) based energy infrastructure, such Discoms' aggregate losses can come down drastically, while also helping massively with greener economy.
Another report on fossil fuels profits and subsidies can say a lot more about the totally irrational policies being pursued by our authorities. Many such issues of critical importance should be diligently viewed in the context that the National Electricity Plan (for the years 2022- 2027/32) has projected massive increase not only in coal power capacity, but also in other conventional power generation technologies such as gas power, hydro power and nuclear power.
A good number of feedback in this regard by civil society to the Central Electricity Authority (CEA)/ the Ministry of Power can help to minimise the associated impacts on our communities, especially in the true context of Climate Change.
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*Power and climate policy analyst

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