Companies can provide power 24X7 without tariff hike: Piyush Goyal

NEW DELHI (TIP): There is enough scope for utilities to ensure uninterrupted power supply without tariff shocks but consumers too need to do their bit by willing to pay for getting 24X7 service and actively help stop electricity theft, minister for power and coal Piyush Goyal said on June 25.

Goyal, a chartered accountant and former investment banker, said every entity involved in the electricity chain — generators, transmission and distribution utilities as well as coal companies — have to improve their operations instead of covering inefficiencies by raising a debate over inadequate tariffs or absence of tariff revisions. “I don’t think it’s only about tariff.

I must tell you Gujarat, which has turned from a Rs 2,500 crore loss-making utility into a Rs 500 crore profit-making entity under Mr (Narendra) Modi over the last 10-12 years and giving 24X7 power to everybody, has had the lowest increase in tariffs compared to any other state in the country,” the minister said.

“We cannot have a system that everything can be passed on to the final consumer in the garb of cost being recovered without being sensitive to their own problems and affordability.” Goyal’s statement comes in the backdrop of the power ministry recently telling the Prime Minister’s Office that the country loses 27 units in transit out of every 100 units being generated due to inefficiency and theft, euphemistically described by the industry as ‘aggregate technical and commercial losses’.

Also, the minister’s strong views are likely to force regulators to look more closely at arguments and numbers being forwarded by utilities in several states, including Delhi, for revising tariffs. According to Goyal, small and simple steps can go a long way in solving the power problem. “Ramifications of small decisions can be pretty large,” he said. For example, rejigging the coal supply chain can result in a savings of about Rs 400-500 crore that can be passed on to consumers. The minister, however, said the problems cannot be solved by the Centre alone.

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The state governments must also do their bit by keeping a grip on expenditure and revenue, metering every consumer and involve people in curbing power theft. “Centrally, I cannot interfere in states. It’s (power) is a concurrent subject and in the federal polity, states are very sensitive to any ‘diktats’. It’s not about politics … I will reach out to all states uniformly… I can assure you I will take two steps for every step they extend,” Goyal said.

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