National Electricity Plan vis-à-vis DISCOMs’ Inefficiencies
The draft of the National Electricity Plan (NEP) released in 2016 presents a pleasant pic-ture of India’s power scenario. Peak-load deficit, which was 9.3 per cent in 2013, has fallen to a mere 3.2 per cent, and as per the estimates it will disappear soon. Similarly, energy-demand deficit has fallen from 9 per cent to 2 per cent. These dramatic improvements have taken place in times when plant-load factor of coal power plants has fallen from 70 per cent to 62 per cent in last four years. However, keeping in mind the ground reality of frequent brownouts and blackouts, we do have a continuing power crisis. This raises doubt about the estimating of these twin deficits – namely peak-load deficit and energydemand deficit. If they are credible estimates, and there is more than adequate powergeneration capacity, why can’t the electricity distribution companies of India (DISCOMs) supply power with no interruption 24 hours a day, as it happens in developed countries? This naturally puts a question mark on the technical and managerial competence of our DISCOMs. NEP has recommended a solar energy target of 100,000 MW by 2022. Out of this, 40,000 MW will be from rooftop photovoltaic systems (RTPVs). Yet, despite all the efforts of the ministry of renewable energy, as of March 2017 only one GW (1,000 MW) of RTPV has been installed even when utility-scale solar installation has exceeded 11 GW.