Key power sector issues were debated by experts at length in a series of panel discussions
15th Regulators and Policymakers Retreat
CII Green Power 2014
The 15th Regulators & Policymakers Retreat held in Goa saw scintillating debates on key power sector issues even as utilities from Gujarat, Delhi and West Bengal stole the show at the IPPAI awards function. In the best performing regulators category, Karnataka Electricity Regulatory Commission won the top award while the Assam Electricity Regulatory Commission ended up as the runner-up. Welspun Energy Pvt and A2Z Infrastructure bagged IPPAI awards for innovative skills. Key power sector issues were debated by experts at length in a series of panel discussions. On August 1, experts analysed the rising coal and gas prices and warned that the Indian industry could soon become uncompetitive due to high electricity costs if this trend is not checked. VK Garg, former chairman, joint Electricity Regulatory Commission, Goa and Union Territories, suggested rationalising rail freight to bring down coal costs for power generation. Sushil Maroo, CEO, Essar Power, too supported Garg’s suggestion. He said power plants should be set up near pitheads to save on coal transportation costs. As per an estimate, 80% of the country’s coal-based generation capacity is located away from coal sources. In some of these cases, coal transportation charges alone contribute to more than Re 1 of the electricity tariff. Asheesh Sharma, MD, Maharashtra State Power Generating Company Ltd, said that Coal India should provide the same quality of coal that it commits to provide. He added that until this quality issue is resolved, domestic coal pricing should not be linked to the international market. Gopal Saxena, Director, BSES, said he was worried about the legal status of regulatory assets. Energy costs of the industry in the US, China, and Europe are expected to fall in the coming years due to the shale gas revolution in those countries, even as the electricity tariff rises at an alarming pace in India. In this context, Harry Dhaul, Director General, IPPAI, warned that over the next 5-10 years, the Indian industry could see a drastic erosion in competiveness vis-à-vis manufacturers from these countries if effective ways are not found to cut power costs. On August 2, former Union power minister Suresh Prabhu and Salman Khurshid, former external affairs minister, debated the issue of transparency in public policy formulation.
“A policy-making statement should be made in parliament, only then will it have the stamp of authority so that no agency will raise questions over it. This will also bring transparency, clarity, and stability in the policy regime,” Prabhu said in reply to Khurshid’s remark that investigation agencies often get suspicious when the government pursues policymaking in a sector proactively. On August 3, Anurag Goel, Member, Competition Commission of India, called for improving governance to bring transparency and stability in the country’s economic policy.
Issues in sanctity of contract, EA2003, fuel supply issue and price uncertainty, geopolitics of energy security, tapping the potential of waste heat to power, and energy conservation were other key topics that were discussed at length in the conference.
L to R: Harry Dhaul, Director General, IPPAI, in conversation with JD Kulkarni, Editor of PowerWatch India.