The bi-annual conference of state power ministers will be held in Shimla next week. This time, the focus of the conference will be on monitoring and expediting the progress of Centre's flagship schemes just a year ahead of the next general elections and on meeting deadlines of almost all flagship power reform schemes.
Scheduled to be held in Shimla, which is in the grip of a severe water shortage, the three-day conference is down to just one day this time. The agenda of the meeting shared by the spokesperson of the Ministry of Power, said the conference would deliberate on 100 per cent household electrification, prepaid metres in every household in next three years and charging infrastructure for electric vehicles.
The agenda also includes discussions over urban power reforms under the Integrated Power Development Scheme (IPDS). Marred by a slow start, financial turmoil in power distribution companies (discoms) and the long-drawn process in starting execution, IPDS is pushing states to innovate, but within a tight deadline, this paper reported recently.
The three major reform plans under the IPDS — smart metering, system strengthening and information technology (IT) enablement — have been sanctioned Rs 293.6 billion for four years, to be borne by the Centre, discoms and institutional finance. However, less than a third of the Centre’s commitment — or Rs 52.6 billion — was met as of March last year.
The State Power Ministers’ conference will be chaired by the Union Power, and New and Renewable Energy Minister R K Singh and attended by every state’s energy minister or the secretary of the energy department. The conference will also have sessions on the proposed draft amendments in the provisions of Captive Generating Plant in Electricity Rules, 2005, which has divided the industry and policymakers.
Among other major issues, the Centre will also discuss with the states the status of coal supply and coal stocks, and flexibility in utilisation of coal-case 4 to tide over the coal crisis.
There will also be deliberations on shifting hydro-power projects from base station operation mode to peak load operation mode, energy conservation, says the agenda. With the share of hydro-power decreasing in the total energy mix, the ministry of power has designed a revival scheme with a bailout package of Rs 160 billion. The fund, however, is stuck.
The meet will also discuss the compliance of Renewable Purchase Obligation (RPO) in order to match the offtake of renewable power with the capacity addition. Last financial year, barring three states, none met their designated RPO.