Changes at the Top

Key appointments in the past one year

There was significant top-tier restructuring in the past year in both public and private sector power companies in the past 12 months. At the central level, new heads were appointed for the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC), the country’s apex regulatory body; the Central Electricity Authority (CEA), the government’s monitoring and advisory arm; and Power System Operation Corporation Limited (POSOCO), the grid operator. Several PSUs got new heads including coal giant Coal India Limited (CIL), hydro major SJVN Limited, power utility Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC), and mining major Neyveli Lignite Corporation (NLC).

In the private sector, there were leadership changes in two of the sector’s biggest companies – integrated power major Tata Power and private transco Adani Transmission Limited (ATL). Another Tata Group firm, Tata Power Delhi Distribution Limited (Tata Power-DDL) saw the appointment of a new head as well. Another major change was business restructuring and subsequent leadership changes at Kolkata-based integrated company CESC Limited. Equipment major GE announced the appointment of a new head for its South Asian operations.

The power sector is today transitioning to a new paradigm – from policy changes to technological advances and a rise in renewables – all of which challenge the sector’s traditional business economics. Clearly, there is a tough task ahead for the new leaders as they prepare to transform their organisations to tackle the most pressing challenges facing the power sector today and going forward.

Power Line presents a round-up of the changes at the top in the power sector over the past year…


Dr Inderjit Singh, Secretary, Ministry of Coal

Dr Inderjit Singh assumed charge as secretary, Ministry of Coal (MoC), in June this year. The post had fallen vacant after Susheel Kumar’s superannuation on April 30. Thereafter, Anil G. Mukhim, secretary, mines, held additional charge as secretary, coal for the interim period.

Singh is a 1985 batch IAS officer of the Kerala cadre. In the past, he has held positions in the Ministry of Commerce, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy and other significant portfolios in the state cadre. Prior to this appointment, he was posted as secretary (coordination) in the cabinet secretariat. His appointment comes at a crucial time when the government is looking to kickstart commercial mining auctions for private players.

Singh has a PhD in economics from Panjab University.

P.K. Pujari, Chairman, CERC

Former power secretary P.K. Pujari was appointed chairman of the CERC) in February 2018 after the post fell vacant last December, following the retirement of Gireesh B. Pradhan.

Pujari, a Gujarat cadre IAS officer, has handled assignments in various departments/ministries, such as power, commercial taxes, finance and industries, in Gujarat as well as the central government. He was secretary, Ministry of Power (MoP), for more than two years before his superannuation in 2017, after serving for 36 years.

During his tenure as secretary, he introduced a number of initiatives such as electrification of the remaining 18,452 villages, the launch of the Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojana for discoms, the issuance of the revised Tariff Policy, 2016, new coal linkage policy for power plants, revised National Electricity Plan, the 19th Electricity Power Survey, revised bid documents for ultra mega power projects (UMPPs), revised power allocation formula for states from central generating stations, formulation of a new hydropower policy, formulation of the new policy for universal household electrification by 2019, policy guidelines for the integration of renewable energy into the grid, revised rules for captive generators, and finalisation of the report for rationalisation of the tariff structure and tariff categories. The guidelines for cross-border power trade with neighbouring countries was finalised during Pujari’s tenure. He was also closely associated with the signing of the International Solar Alliance Framework Agreement during COP22 in Marrakech. He led the Indian delegation for the 2nd BRICS Energy Ministerial Summit and for the Eighth Clean Energy Ministerial Summit at Beijing.

As the CERC currently readies the tariff regulations for the next control period starting 2019, which is expected to introduce a number of changes in the sector including moving to a three-part tariff structure, Pujari has his work cut out for him.

Pankaj Batra, Chairperson, CEA

Pankaj Batra assumed additional charge as chairman, CEA, in July this year. He is also member (planning) and ex-officio additional secretary to the Government of India, and oversees various planning functions, including the planning of renewable energy integration into the grid, the Electric Power Survey Report on long-term demand forecasting, and the National Electricity Plan on generation planning.

Batra joined the CEA in 1983. In the past, he has worked in the Western Regional Load Despatch Centre. He has also worked on grid management in the CEA headquarters, monitoring regional grids. As chief (engineer) with the CERC, he has been involved in formulating various regulations, including provisions related to wind and solar generation in the revised Indian Electricity Grid Code. He also started the regulatory affairs division in the CEA and was earlier member secretary of the National Reliability Council for Electricity.

Batra also worked as the chief engineer involved in financial and commercial appraisals of power generation and transmission projects in the CEA, viability gap funding for renewable energy projects, tariff matters, taxes and duties in the power sector, foreign direct investment in the power sector, standard bidding documents for the procurement of generation and transmission services, the Tariff Policy and the National Electricity Policy, and financial restructuring of state discoms.

He was member secretary of the task force on peaking power plants and creation of adequate system reserves and on integration of electricity from renewable energy sources in the grid. He was also on the power ministry’s committee for the formulation of model smart grid regulations. He is the chairperson of the Working Group VI on policy and regulation in the India Smart Grid Forum and chairperson of the Bureau of Indian Standards committee on power system control and associated communication.

Batra did his B.Tech. from the Institute of Technology, Banaras Hindu University, and has a diploma in systems management from the Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies, Mumbai; a diploma in financial management from the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU); and a diploma in public speaking from the Nazareth Speakers Academy, Mumbai.

One of the key studies under way by the CEA is overseeing building cost-effective power evacuation infrastructure in the Ladakh region, which has vast solar power potential. It is also testing a plan to operate underutilised gas-based plants as peaking plants, Batra stated in a recent Power Line interview.

A.K. Jha, CMD, Coal India Limited

Taking charge of India’s largest coal mining co-mpany, Anil Kumar Jha was appointed the 27th chairman and managing director (CMD) of CIL in May this year, replacing the acting chairman, Suresh Kumar, additional secretary, MoC.

Jha started his career at Central Coalfields Limited in July 1983. He has, in the past, held several key positions including director (production and planning) of MOIL Limited. Prior to his current assignment, Jha was CMD of CIL’s subsidiary, Mahanadi Coalfields Limited (MCL), from November 2015. Under his leadership, MCL recorded its highest ever coal production at 143.06 million tonnes (mt) till March 31, 2018, which was 2.8 per cent higher than the 139.21 mt mined during 2016-17. Jha is the recipient of the Best Chief Executive Award, conferred by GeoMine Tech for the outstanding performance of MCL during 2017-18.

Jha has a M.Tech. in mine planning and design from the Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad, Jharkhand. He has rich work experience spanning 35 years and has worked with Central Mine Planning and Design Institute Limited, Ranchi, for 14 years.

CIL, which accounts for 80 per cent of the domestic coal output, posted a 12 per cent year-on-year increase in the first five months (April-August 2018) of the current fiscal year to 216 mt.

N.L. Sharma, CMD, SJVN Limited

N.L. Sharma took over as CMD of hydropower PSU, SJVN Limited, in December 2017. He succeeds R.N. Misra, who retired in November 2017.

Sharma has 28 years of professional experience behind him. Prior to his current role, he was director (personnel) at SJVN, a post he had held since March 2011. He joined SJVN in 2008 as executive director (HR). Prior to SJVN, he served with the Himachal Pradesh Administrative Services, where he held key administrative posts including deputy secretary to the chief minister, secretary of the Himachal Pradesh State Electricity Board, collector and special secretary.

He has also been chairman of the SJVN Foundation, responsible for the planning and implementation of CSR projects of the company. Under his leadership, various innovative HR strategies have been implemented in SJVN. He has also played a key role in improving the performance of the company and remodelling its business plan. Sharma has an MBA and an M.Sc. degree.

On his roadmap for SJVN, Sharma noted in a recent interview with Power Line, that it has always aspired to be a nationally and internationally acclaimed company in the affordable and sustainable power space. Its prime focus is on developing projects (all of which are at various stages of construction) and delivering results ahead of schedule. It is also focusing on expediting other projects, such as those at the survey and investigation stages that suffer for want of statutory clearances. The company is also keen to explore the unharnessed hydro potential of the hill states of the north and Northeast. SJVN is also diversifying into the wind and solar energy space as well as power transmission.


K.V.S. Baba took over as CMD of POSOCO in December 2017. He was earlier chief executive officer (CEO) of the company.

Baba has nearly 33 years of experience in the power sector. A key area that he has been actively associated with is the Technical Committee on Large Scale Integration of Renewable Energy, Need for Balancing, Deviation Settlement Mechanism (DSM) and associated issues, constituted by the MoP.

He has also worked with GIZ, Germany, National Renewable Energy Laboratories, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories, USA, for the study of integration of 175 GW of renewables by 2022 into the grid and associated issues. He has also been instrumental in the successful implementation of the reserve regulation ancillary services.

Baba has co-authored several papers on the electricity sector. He is chairman of the Indian National Study Committee of CIGRE SC C2. He has been representing POSOCO in GO15 (formerly Very Large Power Grid Operators of the World).

Commenting on the roadmap for POSOCO, he stated in a recent interview with Power Line, “Electricity grid managers have a significant and critical role to play in the energy value chain and hence, need to be quick in adapting while also mitigating new risks. One of POSOCO’s key priorities is to implement a framework for reserves with both primary and secondary frequency controls. Load and generation forecasting is another thrust area to manage uncertainties on account of load and renewable energy variations. POSOCO is focused on improving grid resilience.”

An electrical and electronics engineer, Baba is a qualified systems operator with a specialist-level certification in regulatory framework in the power sector.

Rakesh Kumar, CMD, NLC India

Rakesh Kumar, director (finance), assumed additional charge as CMD of NLC India Limited in August 2018.

Kumar is a commerce graduate with a master’s in business administration in finance. Prior to his joining NLC in 2012, he was associated with various important projects of PSUs such as Brahmaputra Cracker and Polymer Limited (BCPL) and GAIL. These included the Hazira-Vijaipur-Jagdishpur pipeline project, CNG projects, revival of the Dabhol power project, lignite-and coal-based thermal power projects, renewable energy project benchmarking using weighted average cost of capital and leveraging technology through ERP, e-procurement and e-banking, and mobilisation of resources including equity and debt (domestic as well as international market).

As head of NLC’s finance department, he has won industry accolades for his contribution to the introduction of various systems for effective control in finance and accounts, treasury and risk management, budgetary and cost control, tax planning, corporate governance, etc.

P.K. Mukhopadhyay, Chairman, DVC

P.K. Mukhopadhyay assumed additional charge as chairman of DVC in February 2018. He has also been member (finance) since 2014.

Prior to joining DVC, he was director (production) with Braithwaite & Company Limited, a Kolkata-based PSU. During the course of his career, he has served in different capacities in Bharat Heavy Electricals limited, including as deputy general manager and general manager (marketing) in Bharat Bhari Udyog Nigam Limited.

Mukhopadhyay is an electrical engineer from Jadavpur University and also has an MBA from IGNOU.


Anil Sardana, MD and CEO, Adani Transmission Limited

Anil Sardana took over the reins of the country’s largest private transmission company, Adani Transmission Limited (ATL), in May this year. He brings to the table over three decades of experience in the power and infrastructure sectors.

Prior to joining ATL, Sardana served as CEO and MD of the country’s largest integrated private player, Tata Power, a role he took over in 2011.

Sardana had earlier worked with Tata Power as executive director for business development and strategy for a short stint from March to August 2007. He then moved to another Tata group company, Tata Teleservices, as MD for more than three years from 2007 to 2011.

ATL currently owns a transmission network of around 12,540 ckt. km, of which approximately 9,201 ckt. km is operational. Last year, it forayed into the power distribution segment with the acquisition of Reliance Infrastructure’s integrated generation, transmission and retail electricity distribution businesses. “ATL aspires to be a significant contributor to the government’s mission to achieve 24×7 Power for All. Our prime focus will be on consumer services and 24×7 reliable power supply with benchmark System Average Interruption Duration Index (SAIDI) and System Average Interruption Frequency Index (SAIFI), comparable with the best utilities across the globe,” Sardana stated in a recent interview with Power Line.

During the course of his career, Sardana has worked with BSES (before it became an Anil Dhirubhai Ambani group company), NTPC Limited and Tata Power Delhi Distribution Limited. In fact, one of his most notable stints has been that as the first CEO of North Delhi Power Limited in 2002, where he was responsible for taking over a government utility and transforming it into a profit-making company, a model that has become a benchmark for public-private partnerships (PPPs).

An electrical engineer from the Delhi College of Engineering, Sardana also has a postgraduate degree in cost accountancy (ICWAI) and a postgraduate diploma in management from Delhi.

Praveer Sinha, MD and CEO, Tata Power

With effect from May 2018, Praveer Sinha took over as CEO and MD of Tata Power, succeeding Anil Sardana. Prior to this appointment, Sinha was CEO and MD of Tata Power-DDL, supplying power to over 7 million people in north and north-west Delhi.

Sinha has over three decades of experience in the power sector and has been credited with transforming the distribution segment, and developing and setting up greenfield and brownfield power plants in India and abroad.

Sinha has a master’s in business law from the National Law School, Bengaluru, and is a professional electrical engineer by training. He is also a member of the faculty board at the Faculty of Management Studies (FMS), Delhi University, and a member of the board of governors of the Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology, Delhi. He is a research scholar at the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi and a visiting scholar at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston, USA.

“Tata Power is among the oldest and the most iconic companies in the Tata Group and it is my privilege to lead such an institution. I look forward to working with all our stakeholders and employees to take this company to its next stage of growth,” Sinha stated on his appointment.

On the roadmap for the organisation, Sinha recently stated in a media interview that the company is going through a consolidation phase and is looking at divesting its non-core assets. It is also drawing up a roadmap for the next 10 years of growth, in areas such as conventional power generation, renewables, transmission and distribution, as well as rooftop solar power.

Vishal Wanchoo, CEO, GE, South Asia

With effect from October 2017, GE appointed Vishal Wanchoo as president and CEO of GE South Asia. He succeeds Banmali Agarwala, who moved to Tata Sons as president of its infrastructure, defence and aerospace business.

Wanchoo has been with GE for almost 20 years. He started his career with the company in November 1997. He has been a GE officer since 2005 and has held several senior leadership positions in the company. Until now, Wanchoo was the commercial growth leader for GE’s global growth organisation. Prior to this role, Vishal was heading business development, growth and strategy for GE South Asia and before that he was running GE’s global healthcare IT business (HCIT) in the US.

“I am delighted and humbled to take on this new role. These are exciting times for GE and we are at the cusp of a significant transformation into a digital industrial company. I look forward to leading GE South Asia in its next chapter of growth,” Wanchoo stated on his appointment.

Sanjay Banga, CEO, Tata Power-DDL

Sanjay Banga was appointed as Tata Power-DDL’s new CEO after Praveer Sinha was elevated to the position of CEO and MD of Tata Power.

Banga has been with the Tata Power-DDL since July 2003 and was part of the founding team that transformed the ailing distribution company into a benchmark utility. He has been serving as vice-president, power management, contracts and business development.

He has over three decades of experience in the power sector and has worked on designing, project engineering, operations and commissioning of super thermal power projects. He has also worked extensively towards technology integration in the distribution space for ushering in sectoral reforms.

Banga started his career with NTPC. He is also on the board of directors of Tata Power Ajmer Distribution Limited, a distribution franchise of Tata Power.

“Tata Power-DDL is a pioneer in power distribution in India and has emerged as a benchmark utility from an ailing power utility. It is one of the most successful cases of PPP in the power distribution segment, which could be emulated across the country. I look forward to working with all our stakeholders and employees to take the company further and carry forward the legacy of excellence, that I have inherited,” stated Banga on his appointment.

Banga is an alumnus of the National Institute of Technology, Kurukshetra, and an MBA from FMS, Delhi. He is associated with the Harvard Business School for a senior leadership management programme.

Debasish Banerjee, MD, distribution, CESC Limited

Debasish Banerjee was appointed MD of CESC Limited’s distribution business in May 2018, following a restructuring exercise wherein the company’s generation and distribution businesses were separated. Banerjee succeeds Aniruddha Basu, who completed his term in office.

Banerjee was earlier CEO of private utility, Reliance Energy, which he joined in 2007. In 2014, he assumed charge as group business head. During his tenure with Reliance Energy, he was responsible for business strategy development and growth, leading the power distribution business as an independent profit centre, driving marketing efforts to build a healthy project pipeline, project management and business risk mitigation, among others.

An electrical engineer from NIT, Rourkela, with business management qualifications, Banerjee is a seasoned technocrat, with over three decades of diverse industry experience. He earlier worked with Schneider Electric (2000-07) as regional manager, Crompton Greaves as area manager (1994 to 2000), and Areva T&D (1984-86) as senior sales engineer.

Rabi Chowdhury, MD, Generation, CESC Limited

Rabi Chowdhury was appointed MD of CESC’s generation business in May this year, following the restructuring of the company’s power business.

Chowdhury is MD of Haldia Energy Limited and Dhariwal Infrastructure Limited, two wholly owned subsidiaries of the company. He is also on the board of Jarong Hydro Electric Power Company Limited and Ghaziabad Power Company Limited.

Chowdhury has been associated with the group since 1984. He is an electrical engineering graduate from Jadavpur University.

K. Rajagopal, CEO, Reliance Power

In May 2018, K. Rajagopal was appointed CEO of IPP major Reliance Power. He replaced N. Venugopala Rao.

Rajagopal has 35 years of experience in the power sector in both the public and private sectors. He has also been chairman of the Association of Power Producers and a member of national committees on power of the Confederation of Indian Industry and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry. He has also served as CEO of the Lanco Group and LVS Power in the past.

Reliance Power, which owns 5,945 MW of operational assets and a 20 mtpa operational coal mine, has nearly 10 GW of projects under development and implementation, which includes four coal-based plants of almost 7.8 GW.

Kandarp Patel, CEO, Adani Electricity Mumbai Limited

Kandarp Patel is CEO of the newly formed Adani Electricity Mumbai Limited (AEML), a subsidiary of ATL, set up for the Mumbai distribution business following the acquisition of Reliance Infrastructure’s integrated power business. In August this year, ATL announced the completion of the acquisition. The acquired assets will a part of AEML, which will serve over 3 million customers spread across 400 square km in Mumbai. According to ATL, business operations at AEML post-acquisition will continue seamlessly with the absorption of about 5,000 existing employees across three business areas.

Patel has nearly two decades of experience in the power trading, fuel management, legal and regulatory and commercial aspects of the power business. Patel was earlier joint president at Adani Power and led the business development and fuel management vertical there.

Patel started his management career with the Gujarat Electricity Board as controller of accounts, wherein his portfolio involved managing the commercial facets of the board, including disbursing payments to various generating companies based on the power procured by the Gujarat state distribution companies. He has a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. He has also successfully completed an MBA in finance.



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