The Rockefeller Foundation today committed USD 75 million (about Rs 468 crore) for financing an initiative to provide electricity to 1,000 villages through mini-transmission grids. "The Rockefeller Foundation is thrilled to announce Smart Power for Rural Development in India, with the goal of providing access to electricity and transforming the lives of one million people in 1,000 villages in rural India backed by a commitment of USD 75 million," The Rockefeller Foundation president Judith Rodin said here. The Smart Power model is an innovative way to deliver clean energy via decentralised mini grids.
A mini grid can carry 65-75 kilowatt hours (units) and cater to 150-250 households with some 1,000 people. New Delhi-based Smart Power India will be The Rockefeller Foundation's key partner in working with energy service companies (ESCOs) for supplying power to the hinterland. Smart Power India will provide project development support to assist ESCOs in structuring their engagement in terms of financing, business model, site and cluster selection, procurement, training, and so on. It will facilitate agreements with telecom tower firms, ESCOs, investors, and technology and equipment providers and work towards community engagement to ensure strong local buy-in, economic development, and sustained demand for power. Besides, the model will ensure policy and regulatory engagement to align incentives between the government, investors, and ESCOs and reduce risk in the long term by supporting creation of viable grid-interactive models. Under the Smart Power template, an anchor tenant, take for instance, a telecom company operating local cell towers and consuming a lot of energy, would serve as the base demand for power and make it profitable for an ESCO to build a power plant. The foundation would provide bridge loan financing to the four ESCOs -- Tara Urja, OMC, Desi Power and Free Spans.