The government is close to resolving some cases of stressed power projects where the promoters in question are not wilful defaulters on loans they have raised, Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal said on Monday.
"We are close to [a] resolution of stressed thermal power projects soon where developers are not wilful defaulters," Goyal said in response to a query at a briefing here on three years of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government.
"We have been actively engaged with the various stakeholders ... state discoms, bankers ... to resolve the NPAs (non-performing assets) of the power sector and I am assuring the nation that this will result in a further benefit to consumers through discoms being able to provide cheaper tariff," he added.
The power sector accounts for part of the overall problem of NPAs, or bad loans, affecting the Indian banking sector. NPAs of state-run banks at the end of last September rose to Rs 6.3 lakh crore (almost $100 billion), as compared to Rs 5.5 lakh crore at the end of June 2016.
Regarding stressed hydroelectric projects, Goyal said he has been requesting states to take over the debts of such projects as part of a joint Centre-state initiative to revive these.
According to officials, 100 gigawatts (Gw) of "stranded and stressed assets" have been revived through policy reforms and resource mobilisation.
Till date, 27 states have joined the central government's Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojana (UDAY) debt restructuring scheme for states' electricity distribution companies (discoms),
Under UDAY, a state government agrees to take over 75 per cent debt of its distribution company. The scheme provides for the balance debt to be re-priced or issued as state guaranteed discom bonds at coupon rates around 3-4 per cent less than the average existing interest rate.
The signatory state gets additional benefits by way of cheaper funds, reduction in aggregate technical and commercial (AT&C) and transmission losses and interventions in energy efficiency during the period of a turnaround.
Goyal, who is also minister for coal, said the country now has a surplus of both coal and power, while there has been no rise in coal prices for the last three years.
However, India continues to import coal, he said, because the "myopic policies of previous governments" had led to the creation of 83,100 MW of power capacity "through plants that depend solely, or largely, on imported coal".
"Although, we are otherwise self-sufficient in coal," Goyal, who also holds the mines portfolio, added.
Besides, as also the Minister for New and Renewable Energy, Goyal said that India has seen a 370 per cent growth in renewable-based generation capacity in the past three years. He expected renewable energy capacity to surpass thermal power by 2022.