The State government plays a major role in the power sector in Karnataka which results in a lot of confusions when it comes to decision making, said Chairman Karnataka Electricity Regulatory Commission (KERC)
M R Sreenivasa Murthy on Friday.
Speaking at a workshop on ‘Electricity Governance and Planning’, Murthy said that according to law, electricity companies must be allowed to function separately from government. “The chairman of many of the electricity companies today is either the energy minister on in the present government, the Chief Minister since he holds the energy ministry. Legally speaking, ESCOM’s are supposed to plan growth in the power sector after taking into account consumer demand,” he said.
Murthy also said that the State utilities must start looking beyond providing restricted supply of power and focus on meeting market demands instead. “We must plan to give as much as people can buy. People in the State today have accepted restricted supply which is unfortunate,” he said.
A recent study by the KERC estimates that the State will need 1,01,000 Million Units of power by 2022 which translates to roughly double of the current demand of 66,000 Million units. This will lead to a deficit of 13-16 per cent taking into account all announced projects and with unrestricted supply, the deficit will rise further to 20 per cent, KERC estimates.
“Currently, the State is coping with the shortage of power by going for Short Term Power Purchase agreements. However, we have been asking ESCOM’s to go for agreements of longer durations as the price will be low, sometimes by as much as 50 per cent. We need 21,000 Megawatts (MW) of additional power in the coming years which we cannot match, long term agreements are the solution,” he said.
Murthy added that the commissioning of the Raichur-Sholapur 765 kV link which would connect the southern states to the national grid would further enable purchase of power from the north.
Customers Not INTERACTING
Sreenivasa Murthy said that customers of electricity supply companies in the State were not engaging with officials. “While we have directed the ESCOM’s to have meetings at sub-division-level with senior officers present. There are many instances in which no one has shown up,” he said. Taking the example of a recent meeting in Mangalore, he said the KERC would ask the ESCOM’s to try harder to invite participants for meetings.