With this issue we celebrate our twenty-second anniversary. As before, we use this occasion to provide you with a view on the state of the sector, our own as well as that of leading sector players. So you will find in this special issue, our data-driven analysis of key segments, interviews with key industry figures, and viewpoints of eminent experts. In this short editorial note, however, we are choosing to stress the positives, of which there are many.
To begin with, power supply has improved and load shedding has definitely reduced. More people have access to electricity and it has become much easier to get a connection. We are not close to 24×7 supply in all parts of the country, but are certainly getting there. Fewer people are using diesel generators and thus there is less pollution, at least from this source.
Also helping the cause of reducing pollution is the increasing share of renewable energy. As has been widely reported and repeated, the capacity addition from solar energy exceeded that of coal-fired plants last year. To be sure, this brings its own challenges (transmission, integration, etc.) but the move towards a cleaner future has to be welcomed.
The increase in the cost of purchase of power by discoms has also slowed down considerably, driven partly by the promise of lower cost of renewable power. In fact, for many discoms, this increase has been as low as 1 per cent and in some cases even lower. To some extent, this benefit has been passed on to the consumers and the tariff increases have been lower. It should be noted that the average cost of supply is still higher than the average revenue realised. The gap though is reducing and that too is very positive.
The discoms may not be healthy enough but most of them are healthier. They have certainly been helped by UDAY, even if the programme has not achieved all its objectives. The AT&C losses have decreased, though not as much as needed or mandated.
Increased access through Saubhagya and other programmes will also lead to an increased demand, which will help address some of the issues faced by power generators. We are already seeing some signs in the form of increased PLFs and increased prices on the exchanges.
Another welcome development is the beginning of the recognition of importance of quality of power on part of the government and the discoms, now that quantity is less of an issue.
All this is not to imply that there are no challenges and no pitfalls. In fact, there are many, including fuel availability, evacuation of renewable power, stressed assets, delay in the payment of dues, etc.
But for this note, for a change, we have decided to take a longer term perspective and reminded the readers of the real progress that has been achieved. It is also important to mention that this progress achieved, not just over the past five years but over the past decade, is a result of efforts of this government and the previous one. Despite the political differences, the policy course has been a continuous one. And that too is positive.
P.S.: We take this opportunity to rededicate ourselves to the mission of the magazine: to be the most trustworthy source of information and analysis for the Indian power sector. We would also like to thank our readers, editorial contributors and advertisers for their continued support.