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India:Free agriculture power paves way for higher transmission and distribution losses

As per the PSERC tariff order pronounced on April 19, different generation houses supplied 53,021 million units (MUs) to the Punjab State Transmission Corporation limited (PSTCL) in 2016-17. It pumped 51,696 MUs into the PSPCL network, after making T&D losses of 2.5% (1,325 MUs)

The Punjab State Power Corporation Limited has been shifting the load of the free power it supplies to 14 lakh agriculture tubewells in the state into Transmission and Distribution (T&D) losses, an analysis based on the findings of the Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission (PSERC) tariff order for 2018-19 concludes.

The PSPCL’s losses in the domestic and commercial sector is 25%, which officers find ‘impossibly high’. Eyebrows are also being raised on the power utility availing extra subsidy for nearly 2,000 million units worth Rs 1,000 crore every year from 2010-17, that has cost around Rs 7,000 crore to the state exchequer, since.

How do the numbers stack up

As per the PSERC tariff order pronounced on April 19, different generation houses supplied 53,021 million units (MUs) to the Punjab State Transmission Corporation limited (PSTCL) in 2016-17. It pumped 51,696 MUs into the PSPCL network, after making T&D losses of 2.5% (1,325 MUs).

The regulator estimated that unmetered power of 12,848 MUs was pumped into the agriculture sector during 2016-17 after incurring distribution losses of 10.1% (1,302 MUs). PSPCL, though, had claimed that 14 lakh tubewells availed 11,546 MUs and received a whopping subsidy of ₹5,289 crore from the state government.

The utility supplied the balance power of 38,855 MUs to metered consumers (who are charged bills) in the industrial, domestic, commercial and other categories. Of this, industrial sector was pumped 16,330 MUs, with domestic and commercial consumers getting 22,525 MUs, a PSPCL officer said on condition of anonymity.

PSPCL claimed metered sale of 32,232 MUs

Now, figures that the PSPCL supplied to the PSERC in its annual revenue requirement petition claimed that the actual metered sale of power was 32,232 MUs. The metered sale in the industrial consumption category was 15,350 MUs.

 “Since most of the industrial consumption is at 11kV or higher voltage, the loss in this category having a metered sale of 15,350 MUs, cannot be more than 6%,” said the PSPCL officer on the condition of anonymity. Adding this back to the metered supply gives the energy supplied at 16,330 MUs.

Reaching 25% loss

Now, the energy that was pumped to domestic and commercial consumers is 22,525 MUs. However, the PSPCL has metered this energy at consumer end as 16,882 MUs showing a loss of 5,643 MU, which is 25% of the pumped supply.

“With the PSPCL investing more than Rs 10,000 crore into its distribution system to take out 63.5 lakh meters out of consumer premises, replacing 26,000km of distribution wires, de-loading distribution system by adding 5.5 lakh transformers, over 2010-2017, it is impossible that the loss in domestic and commercial sector can be 25%,” the officer, quoted earlier, said. He added that there were chinks in calculations and projections of figures of the PSPCL

“It’s a complex issue. Feeders giving power to tubewells have meters to know how much power is supplied. There is very little scope for crossover of T&D losses,” said PSPCL chairman-cum-managing director .

“The matter needs cross-checking. If it is true, it is of serious concern,” said power minister Gurpreet Singh Kangar.

Resistance from farmers not to get meters installed is suiting the PSPCL, which does not seem willing to fix meters on agriculture tubewells. As against the claim of the PSPCL that overall T&D losses are 14.5%, the PSERC in its tariff order, concluded it is 16.2% (for 2016-17).[Courtesy: Hindustan Times]

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