Skip to main content

200 units of free electricity? How Karnataka continues with its 'unscientific' subsidy

By Shankar Sharma* 
Recent news items (click here, here, here and here) suggest the issue of the financial crisis being faced by Karnataka's public sector units KPCL, KPTCL and ESCOMs, catering to the energy sector. Though not entirely new, the crisis should be a cause of major concern for the overall financial scenario and the larger welfare of our people in the state. 
 Whereas these power sector entities have been generally facing financial issues for decades, and the financial woes are also being faced by the electric companies in other states also, the increasing level of financial woes within the state, as reported in the media, should mean that the developmental activities in the state can get seriously hampered, if the same are not addressed urgently.
The continued financial burden due to multiple but unscientific subsidies, technical and commercial losses in the system, and the overall inefficiency can only make the situation worse, if corrective measures are not implemented effectively.
One news item has stated: "As per the submissions made before the commission, Escoms will now borrow money to pay transmission fee and power purchase costs to avoid a financial crisis in the power sector."
The recently announced 200 units of free electricity per month can only escalate the financial woes. The fact that all costs associated with the electricity generation, transmission and distributions will only keep increasing, as they are happening all over the world, must not be ignored.
Hence, the challenge for the state can be seen as acute; whereas the revenue from the sale of electricity cannot be increased beyond a certain margin (when we take into account the sensitivity of the price raise as a politically hot issue), the subsidies and freebies will increase the overall cost of electricity. At the same time the costs of taking electricity to the consumer's premises also is increasing.
A multipronged approach is needed to make the electricity sector in the state viable in the medium and long-term. One techno-economically viable option is to encourage various categories of consumers, especially the residential, commercial and agricultural consumers, to optimally harness the rooftop solar PV systems so as to reduce the overall financial burden on the state government.
Since the union government is also providing capita subsidy for such rooftop solar PV systems, the state govt. should embark on a massive campaign to encourage the same along with any financial support if needed.
A domain expert has stated: "Using the Maharashtra government as an example of success, pilots (on rooftop solar OR small size solar PV systems) could be initiated in other states with a national programme on clean energy for agriculture, enhance the reliability and sustainability for rural areas, reduce losses and subsidy burden on states and when linked to a sustainable livelihood program, can accelerate green jobs in rural areas."
It is also credibly reported in the national media that the small size solar PV systems are being deployed in the agricultural sector in the states of Rajasthan and Gujarath with commendable results. The associated policies and experiences in these states should be studied diligently, for implementation in our state.
Option to optimally harness enormous potential of small size solar PV systems will minimise need to divert forest and agricultural lands
In the larger context of the state's overall welfare considerations, it should not be difficult to visualise the techno-economic feasibility of such widespread usage of small size solar PV systems along with suitably designed energy storage batteries, wherever needed (as compared to relying only on large size solar power parks, as is happening in the state), to revolutionise the demand/ supply of electricity in the state for a sustainable and green energy future.
Whereas, the recently announced policy on 200 units of free electricity per month can only directly lead to the escalation of the financial woes of the state, it will also lead to a huge disincentive for the residential consumers to install roof-top SPV systems, and hence will indefinitely delay the green energy transition for the state.
Since the state has no coal reserve within its borders, and has more or less exhausted almost all of its hydro power potential, and also since adding more nuclear power plants is economically non-viable, the roof-top SPV systems must play a critical role in the state's energy scenario.
This option to optimally harness the enormous potential of small size solar PV systems along with suitably designed energy storage batteries, wherever needed, and in as many applications as feasible, will also minimise the need to divert forest and agricultural lands, minimise the pollution/ contamination of air, water and soil.
The concerned authorities in the state energy department should be mandated to come up with a diligently prepared energy policy for the state so as to implement the necessary action plans to encourage highest levels of efficiency, demand side management, energy conservation, and the widespread usage of solar PV systems along with suitably designed energy storage batteries. 
 Effective consultations with the interested individuals and civil society groups will make such an energy policy highly relevant to the needs of the state. Many experienced individuals, such as myself, will be happy to effectively contribute to the associated discussions.
---
*Power and climate policy analyst, electrical engineer with over 40 years of experience in the power sector, including 8 years in Karnataka. This article is based on the author’s representation to Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah

Comments

TRENDING

What's Bill Gates up to? Have 'irregularities' found in funding HPV vaccine trials faded?

By Colin Gonsalves*  After having read the 72nd report of the Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committee on alleged irregularities in the conduct of studies using HPV vaccines by PATH in India, it was startling to see Bill Gates bobbing his head up and down and smiling ingratiatingly on prime time television while the Prime Minister lectured him in Hindi on his plans for the country. 

Muted profit margins, moderate increase in costs and sales: IIM-A survey of 1000 cos

By Our Representative  The Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad’s (IIM-A's) latest Business Inflation Expectations Survey (BIES) has said that the cost perceptions data obtained from India’s business executives suggests that there is “mild increase in cost pressures”.

Displaced from Bangladesh, Buddhist, Hindu groups without citizenship in Arunachal

By Sharma Lohit  Buddhist Chakma and Hindu Hajongs were settled in the 1960s in parts of Changlang and Papum Pare district of Arunachal Pradesh after they had fled Chittagong Hill Tracts of present Bangladesh following an ethnic clash and a dam disaster. Their original population was around 5,000, but at present, it is said to be close to one lakh.

Govt putting India's professionals, skilled, unskilled labour 'at mercy of' big business

By Thomas Franco, Dinesh Abrol*  As it is impossible to refute the report of the International Labour Organisation, Chief Economic Advisor Anantha Nageswaran recently said that the government cannot solve all social, economic problems like unemployment and social security. He blamed the youth for not acquiring enough skills to get employment. Then can’t the people ask, ‘Why do we have a government? Is it not the government’s responsibility to provide adequate employment to its citizens?’

Magnetic, stunning, Protima Bedi 'exposed' malice of sexual repression in society

By Harsh Thakor*  Protima Bedi was born to a baniya businessman and a Bengali mother as Protima Gupta in Delhi in 1949. Her father was a small-time trader, who was thrown out of his family for marrying a dark Bengali women. The theme of her early life was to rebel against traditional bondage. It was extraordinary how Protima underwent a metamorphosis from a conventional convent-educated girl into a freak. On October 12th was her 75th birthday; earlier this year, on August 18th it was her 25th death anniversary.

Anti-Rupala Rajputs 'have no support' of numerically strong Kshatriya communities

By Rajiv Shah  Personally, I have no love lost for Purshottam Rupala, though I have known him ever since I was posted as the Times of India representative in Gandhinagar in 1997, from where I was supposed to do political reporting. In news after he made the statement that 'maharajas' succumbed to foreign rulers, including the British, and even married off their daughters them, there have been large Rajput rallies against him for “insulting” the community.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

IMA vs Ramdev: Why what's good or bad for goose should be good or bad for gander

By Dr Amitav Banerjee, MD* Baba Ramdev and his associate Balkrishna faced the wrath of the Supreme Court for their propaganda about their Ayurvedic products and belittling mainstream medicine. Baba Ramdev had to apologize in court. His apology was not accepted and he may face the contempt of court with harsher punishment. The Supreme Court acted on a public interest litigation (PIL) moved by the Indian Medical Association (IMA).

Youth as game changers in Lok Sabha polls? Young voter registration 'is so very low'

By Dr Mansee Bal Bhargava*  Young voters will be the game changers in 2024. Do they realise this? Does it matter to them? If it does, what they should/must vote for? India’s population of nearly 1.3 billion has about one-fifth 19.1% as youth. With 66% of its population (808 million) below the age of 35, India has the world's largest youth population. Among them, less than 40% of those who turned 18 or 19 have registered themselves for 2024 election. According to the Election Commission of India (ECI), just above 1.8 crore new voters (18-and 19-year-olds) are on the electoral rolls/registration out of the total projected 4.9 crore new voters in this age group.

'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site satyagrahis.in. The satyagraha.in article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the satyagraha.in article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.