Why are power meters being fixed on agri pumpsets in AP?
In Andhra Pradesh State, the history of power sector is long and highly notable. We all know the inspiration for APSEB and there is no need to mention instances.
In Andhra Pradesh State, the history of power sector is long and highly notable. We all know the inspiration for APSEB and there is no need to mention instances. Needless to say power became nowadays an essential life saving tool particularly in this digital era where every transaction is going to digitalised.
The reading and calculating the consumption of power by agricultural sector is a long time demand. Different organisations such as Indian Statistical Institute, KPMG gave recommendations in this regard. It is high time to revision the consumption in agricultural sector wherein it is highly misconsumed. The paradigm shift to fixing meters to agricultural pump sets is somewhat to benefit the power sector as well as general public. The reasons are as under:
There are no separate agricultural feeders in AP State such as Tamil Nadu to segregate the power consumption between domestic, industrial and agricultural consumers. The mismanagement like theft of power by domestic consumers and cottage industries via nearby agricultural power lines couldn't be averted by power companies. Corruption prevalent in the employees of power sector is also a reason behind the loss to companies as they show the consumption of power as agriculture consumption.
In agricultural power consumption , the farmers often resort to selling the power by supplying water to adjacent landholders which do not come under power reading. Similarly, the power consumption in all sectors went on without any accountability. In the year 2013, these melt in air accumulated consumption charges were collected by distribution companies from domestic consumers with a special drive by naming them as surcharge, adjustment charge etc. in their regular electricity bills.
Thus the disappeared power consumption charges were skilfully thrown into agricultural power consumption. These free power consumption accounts were again thrown into the allocation of budget towards 9-hour free power supply account of State government. In fact, the subsidy inputs for the agricultural power consumption increase drastically year by year in the State budget. These operational and financial inefficiencies in power transmission and distribution lead to allocation of more budget by the State government as agricultural subsidy to the distribution companies at the cost of other welfare schemes to vulnerable sections.
Highest procurement costs through PPAs (Power Purchase Agreements) with private companies are the main financial burden to the DISCOMs. As a result, the DISCOMs fall into financial crisis. On the other hand due to insufficient power generation of state power utilities , it does not meet the energy demand of consumers.
The Electricity Amendment Bill, 2020 was introduced by the Central Government with some changes to the Electricity Act, 2003. As per the new bill, Electricity Contract Enforcement Authority will be established by Government of India. This Authority will enforce performance of contracts of purchase or sale or transmission of a power between a generating company, distribution licensee and transmission licensee. These franchisees supply the power to any particular part of the area in free market and for their profit.
At present, the electricity subject is in concurrent list, therefore the State Governments are supplying free power to vulnerable sections such as farmers, weaker section housing colonies and for promoting MSMEs as per industrial policies . Power tariffs decided by the franchisees will defeat the purpose of welfare activities of the State governments to supply power to all vulnerable sections.
Steps to reduce monetary loss and energy loss
1. Normally power is generated through hydro, thermal, solar, wind etc. Power generated through solar energy has the potential to fulfil the requirements due to its lower cost compared to the current average procurement cost of DISCOMs. Therefore the Government took a decision to establish solar parks generating 10,000 MW solar energy in high irradiation areas of Anantapur, Kadapa, Kurnool and Prakasam districts. For this purpose AP government established AP Green Energy Corporation Ltd. The allocation of supervisory staff and other employees to APGEC Ltd from AP Genco to these districts was completed. APGEC with the assistance of District Collectors identified government lands and assigned lands suitable for establishment of solar parks. Government issued orders on proposed modalities for payment of land lease in entering agreements with farmers.
The Budget requirement will be borne by Power Finance Corporation and DISCOMs on sharing basis. In addition to this, A.P. Solar Power Corporation Ltd a Joint Venture Company of Government of India and AP State will obtain financial support from central government to establish solar parks with minimum 500 mw capacity. The maximum time required for establishment of a solar energy power station is five to seven months and to generate solar energy, very less staff is required for control room maintenance and solar panel periodic inspections. The administrative budget is very less when compared to thermal and hydro projects for operation and maintenance of solar parks.
Generally solar power is generated during day time, it could be well utilised for agricultural needs. Due to the lower cost for generation of Solar Energy, the DISCOMs can reduce their high procurement costs. The Government has designed fixing of meters to agriculture pump sets and direct money transfer to farmers on lines similar to the distribution of social security pensions. The pension budget is released centrally every month from Society for Elimination of Rural Poverty (SERP) and punctually reaches the village beneficiary.
In such a way, the direct money transfer to the farmer and opening a separate bank account to the beneficiary from village level to government level is being done in convergence with the departments of Revenue, Agriculture, Energy Assistant of Village Secretariat, Linemen at village to the Finance Department, Energy Department at State level. All the power utilities will be accountable and unaccountable energy consumption will be gradually reduced due to reading and calculating each consumption point through direct money transfer to the farmer.
( The author is Spl Grade Deputy Collector,
Government of AP)