Rs 14,666 crore earmarked for strengthening state’s power infrastructure: MSEDCL chairman

The Indian Express | 6 days ago | 05-08-2022 | 10:45 pm

Rs 14,666 crore earmarked for strengthening state’s power infrastructure: MSEDCL chairman

Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (MSEDL) is planning to spend an amount of Rs 14,666 crore on strengthening the power distribution infrastructure in the state to meet the increasing demand of electricity in years to come, officials said. The funds will be utilised to improve the quality of uninterrupted power supply and ensure the consumers can avail of better services, Vijay Singhal, Chairman and Managing Director of MSEDCL, said.A Revamped Distribution Sector Scheme (RDSS) will be implemented with financial assistance from the Central Government so as to increase the efficiency of the power distribution companies in Maharashtra, he said. This will also help towards improving the financial stability of power distribution companies, Singhal said in an official statement issued on Friday.Due to this scheme, there will be a radical change in the power distribution system of MSEDCL, he said. Features of the scheme include improving financial stability and operational efficiency through conditional financial assistance, strengthening power distribution infrastructure, and improving quality and availability of power supply, Singhal said in the statement.Giving a break up on where the amount of Rs 14,266 crore would be spent, Singhal said 377 new sub-stations will be set up at various places besides additional transformers that will be installed at 299 sub-stations. By increasing the capacity of 292 sub-stations, about 29, 893 new distribution transformers will be installed. Also 21,691 circuit km of high pressure overhead channel and 4,171 circuit km of high transmission underground channel will be installed, he said. 

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BMC to set up 9 mini waste to energy plants
The Indian Express | 7 hours ago | 12-08-2022 | 03:45 am
The Indian Express
7 hours ago | 12-08-2022 | 03:45 am

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is setting up nine mini waste-to-energy or biomethanisation plants with the capacity to process two metric tonnes (MT) of organic waste per day. These will be located across Mumbai with the aim to help reduce wet waste going to the Deonar and Kanjurmarg dumping grounds.At present, Mumbai sends about 6,500 MT of waste to the two dumping grounds, and has been planning decentralised waste management and segregation at each ward.There are three operational mini waste-to-energy plants, one each at Pali Hill and Haji Ali with a capacity to handle two MT of organic waste per day, and one at Malad with a capacity to take 30 MT of organic waste per day.Meanwhile, each of the nine plants will require about 2,200 sqft of land, and 500 litres of water per day for operation. Waste will be segregated by the civic body and organic wet waste will be sent to the biomethanisation plants. Plastic and paper waste will not be recycled at the plant.A senior civic official from the solid waste management department said, “Wards have been directed to find suitable plots in their jurisdiction to set up the nine biomethanisation plants.”The electricity generated from each plant will be used in the nearest BMC building. BMC has estimated net electricity production of 30 to 50 units per day, after basic consumption demand is met.  The leftover will be settled with the electricity provider for metering. Approximately 300kg of manure will be produced per day, and will be used in municipal gardens and plantations across the city.BMC recently floated tenders to set up the biomethanisation plants, which include contracts for operation and maintenance for a period of five years after construction is completed.With the aim of scientific closure of the Mulund dumping ground, 500 MT of waste is biomined every day there. Of the 70 lakh MT of waste at the dumping ground, biomining has been completed for 10 lakh MT, according to data from BMC’s solid waste management department. The senior civic official quoted above said, “After monsoon, BMC will procure new machinary which will increase the daily biomining capacity at Mulund.”Newsletter | Click to get the day’s best explainers in your inboxMeanwhile, after half a decade of waiting, construction of BMC’s 600 MT waste-to-energy plant at Deonar dumping ground will begin after monsoon, as work orders have already been issued to the contractor. On June 4, BMC received the consent order from Maharashtra Pollution Control Board, enabling it to begin work.In May this year, BMC set up a committee to assess the need for a second waste-to-energy plant at Deonar dumping ground, as it is expecting the quantity of waste generated daily to reduce gradually with interventions. On the basis of this committee’s report, the BMC will decide on the capacity of the second waste-to-energy plant at the dumping ground.

BMC to set up 9 mini waste to energy plants
Maharashtra: MSEDCL unearths power thefts worth Rs 131.50 crore
The Indian Express | 20 hours ago | 11-08-2022 | 02:45 pm
The Indian Express
20 hours ago | 11-08-2022 | 02:45 pm

Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (MSEDCL) flying squad has exposed a total of 2,625 cases of electricity theft to the tune of Rs 131.50 crore during the period from April to June this year. Vijay Singhal, chairman and managing director of MSEDCL told The Indian Express that the aim is to curb electricity thefts, misuse of electricity, and other irregularities. “Towards that effect, instructions have been issued to set up 10 flying squad units at the divisional level,” Singhal said Wednesday.Singhal said that strict action is being taken against those who steal electricity in order to improve the financial situation of MSEDCL. He also directed the flying squad teams to work more efficiently to curb power thefts at a recent meeting held with executive director (in-charge) Shivaji Indalkar (retired commander) along with other officers of the Safety and Enforcement (S and E) Department.At present, 63 flying squad units along with 8 Enforcement units are working in the S and E department of MSEDCL. During the first quarter of fiscal 2022-23, the flying squad unearthed 2,625 cases where electricity to the tune of 239.58 MU was illegally consumed and collected a fine of Rs 54.16 crore. Singhal has also directed the S and E officers to expedite the recovery of the remaining amountThe MSEDCL flying squad units comprise Konkan Regional Office (22), Pune Regional Office (14), Nagpur Regional Office (15), and Aurangabad Regional Office (12). Each Flying squad team has uncovered nearly 20 cases of power theft every month.In 2019-20, a total of 9,250 theft cases worth Rs 97.50 crore were detected. In the subsequent year, despite various restrictions due to the Covid-19, the flying squad registered 7,169 cases worth Rs 87.49 crore. In 2021-22, a massive 13,370 cases of electricity theft to the tune of Rs 264.46 crore were unearthed, the MSEDCL said in statement Wednesday.Out of the total amount charged against the thefts, the company has recovered Rs 54.36 crore, Rs 53.18 crore and Rs 124.98 crore for the financial years 2019-20, 2020-21 and 2021-22 respectively. Electricity theft, misuse of electricity or unauthorised use of electricity is a cognizable offence under Indian Electricity Act, 2003.

Maharashtra: MSEDCL unearths power thefts worth Rs 131.50 crore
Explained: Electricity Bill – promise, problems
The Indian Express | 2 days ago | 10-08-2022 | 05:45 am
The Indian Express
2 days ago | 10-08-2022 | 05:45 am

The government Monday tabled the Electricity (Amendment) Bill 2022 in the Lok Sabha, soon after which it was referred to the parliamentary standing committee on energy for wider consultation with stakeholders.Under the amendments proposed, the government is providing consumers a choice of power suppliers like mobile and internet service providers. It also has a provision for timely and adequate tariff revisions to help state utilities come out of losses and make payments for power in-time.What does the amendment Bill propose?For consumers, the Bill, cleared by the Union Cabinet last Wednesday, has proposed to amend Sections 42 and 14 of the Electricity Act, thus, enabling competition in retail distribution of power by offering the customers the option to choose electricity suppliers, just like they can choose telephone or internet service providers. The amended Section 14, the Bill says, will “facilitate the use of distribution networks by all licensees under provisions of non-discriminatory open access”, while Section 42 will be ameded to “facilitate non-discriminatory open access to the distribution network of a distribution licensee”.The Bill, with the amendment of Section 62 of the Act, makes provision for “mandatory” fixing of minimum as well as maximum tariff ceilings by the “appropriate commission” to avoid predatory pricing by power distribution companies and to protect consumers.Also, the amendment Bill has several provisions to ensure graded and timely tariff revisions that will help provide state power utilities enough cash to be able to make timely payments to power producers. This move is aimed at addressing the recurrent problem of default by distribution companies in payment to generation companies.The bill through amendments in Section 166 of the Act also seeks to strengthen payment security mechanisms and give more powers to regulators. ”It has become necessary to strengthen the regulatory mechanism, adjudicatory mechanism in the Act and to bring administrative reforms through improved corporate governance of distribution licensees,” according to the bill.Why is it being opposed?Provisions of the Bill are being opposed by a number of opposition-ruled states. After the Electricity (Amendment) Bill was introduced in the lower House of Parliament, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted to term the bill “dangerous” and said it “will benefit a few power distribution companies.Kejriwal tweeted, “Electricity Amendment Bill is being brought in Lok Sabha today. This law is very dangerous. With this, instead of improving the power problem in the country, it will become more serious. People’s suffering will increase. Only a few companies will benefit. I appeal to the Centre not to bring this in haste.”The House witnessed unruly scenes with some opposition MPs showing placards, tearing papers and flinging them into air as Power Minister R K Singh introduced the Bill in the Lok Sabha. While opposition parties like the Congress, DMK and the Left parties sought the withdrawal of the Bill, parties considered to be friendly with the BJP, like the YSRCP and the BJD, insisted on wider consultations. Opposing the introduction of the Bill, RSP’s N K Premachandran said the provisions of the proposed legislation were against the federal structure.“It is an accepted Constitutional position that the basic features of the fundamental characters of the Constitution shall not be amended or altered, but the federal fabric of the Constitution of the country is being altered by particular States of the Union of India not being taken into consideration,” he said alleging that the Centre did not consult the states on the Bill. Premachandran said that power as a subject comes under the Concurrent List and it was the “the bounden duty or the mandatory obligation” of the Centre to consult the states. The Concurrent List contains subjects over which both the Union and state legislatures have jurisdiction.How will these amendments help?The Bill comes at a time when there is a debate around freebies being offered by political parties that has also, among other things, led to various state power distribution companies (Discoms) not being able to raise enough resources to make timely payments to power generating companies. According to latest government data, Discoms of three states — Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Telangana – are have to pay about 57 per cent of the total dues owed to power generating companies, followed by three BJP-ruled states of Uttar Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir and Madhya Pradesh, who account for another about 26 per cent of the total dues of Rs 114,222 crore owed to power generation companies.Government data updated till March 31, 2022, reveals that states owe Discoms Rs 62,931 crore for services and another Rs 76,337 as cost of freebies announced by them.Among the states that have defaulted on payments to Discoms, Telangana leads the chart with a cumulative outstanding of Rs 11,915 crore, followed by Maharashtra at Rs 9,131 crore. BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh leads the pack among states that have not made payments to Discoms for subsidies at Rs 18,946 crore, followed by Madhya Pradesh (Rs 16,240 crore). While the top three together owe Rs 65,041 crores, the next three BJP-ruled states owe Rs 29,280 crore of the total, according to a PRAPTI (Payment Ratification and Analysis in Power procurement for bringing Transparency in Invoicing of generators) data till July 31, 2022.Experts recommend that empowering the regulator to be able to take calls on tariff revision and ensuring that the government freebies, even on electricity, should be through direct benefit transfer.

Explained: Electricity Bill – promise, problems
Electricity Amendment Bill faces Opposition protests, sent to House panel
The Indian Express | 3 days ago | 09-08-2022 | 03:45 am
The Indian Express
3 days ago | 09-08-2022 | 03:45 am

The Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2022, has been sent to the standing committee for consultation with stakeholders amid the Opposition calling it an encroachment into states’ powers and hurting the federal structure.Provisions of the Bill have been opposed by a number of Opposition-ruled states, including those aimed at allowing customers to have the option to choose electricity suppliers — just like one can choose telephone or internet service providers. The legislation seeks to create competition in the retail segment of the power distribution sector and proposes that a discom (power distribution company) can use other power distribution licensees’ network. It seeks to amend Section 42 of the Act to facilitate non-discriminatory open access to the distribution network of a distribution licensee. It also proposes to amend Section 14 of the Act to facilitate the use of distribution networks by all licensees under provisions of non-discriminatory open access with the objective of “enabling competition, enhancing efficiency of distribution licensees for improving services and ensuring sustainability” of the power sector. The Bill also seeks to strengthen payment security mechanism and give more powers to regulators. “It has become necessary to strengthen the regulatory mechanism, adjudicatory mechanism in the Act and to bring administrative reforms through improved corporate governance of distribution licensees,” according to the Bill.After the Electricity (Amendment) Bill was introduced in the lower House of Parliament by Power Minister R K Singh, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted to call the proposed legislation “dangerous”, saying it “will benefit a few power distribution companies.Kejriwal tweeted in Hindi: “Electricity Amendment Bill is being brought in Lok Sabha today. This law is very dangerous. With this, instead of improving the power problem in the country, it will become more serious. People’s suffering will increase. Only a few companies will benefit. I appeal to the Centre not to bring this in haste.”The House witnessed unruly scenes with some Opposition MPs showing placards, tearing papers and flinging it into the air.While Opposition parties like the Congress, the DMK and Left parties sought the withdrawal of the Bill, BJP-friendly parties like the YSRCP and the BJD insisted on wider consultation.Opposing the introduction of the Bill, N K Premachandran of the RSP said the provisions of the proposed legislation were against the federal structure. “It is an accepted Constitutional position that the basic features of the fundamental characters of the Constitution shall not be amended or altered, but the federal fabric of the Constitution of the country is being altered by particular States of the Union of India not being taken into consideration,” he said, alleging that the Centre did not consult the states on the Bill. Premachandran said ‘power’ as a subject comes under the Concurrent list and it was the “the bounden duty or the mandatory obligation” of the Centre to consult the states.He added: “The indiscriminate privatisation of the distribution system in the power sector by granting licence to multiple agencies to give service in the same area will result in tariff hike, and that will adversely affect the interest of the ordinary consumers as well as the farmers because they are getting power subsidy.”Congress’ Manish Tewari objected to the Bill, saying the Bill sought to allow multiple private companies to provide electricity in the same area, a provision that could lead to “privatisation of profits and nationalisation of losses”.CPI-M’s A M Ariff said the provisions in the proposed Bill were in violation of the Supreme Court judgment of April 2017. The judgment has given the “state enough flexibility to develop their power sector in whatever manner they consider appropriate.” Ariff also pointed out that withdrawal of the Bill was one of the main demands of the year-long farmers’ struggle for which the government had given an assurance. TMC’s Saugata Roy raised the same issue. DMK’s T R Baalu said the Tamil Nadu government was giving free electricity to farmers for the past several years and the proposed amendments could affect “poor farmers” who receive free power.However, Singh claimed the Opposition members were indulging in “false propaganda” against the Bill, triggering protests from the Opposition benches. “The farmers will continue to get free power. There will be no roll back of subsidy,” Singh said amid calls for wider consultations on the measure. “We have consulted the states and other stakeholders. This Bill is pro-people and pro-farmers,” Singh said as he introduced the Bill.Opposition MPs staged a walkout as their demands for a division on the motion was denied.While the BJD agreed with the government’s decision to send it to the standing committee, in which members of all major parties have their presence from both the houses, the YSRCP has a stand that it should be sent to a select committee later to come up with more recommendations.This also comes amid a renewed debate on the freebie culture and the focus on the mounting dues of power discoms. According to latest government data, discoms of three states – Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Telangana – owed about 57 per cent of the total dues to power generating companies, followed by BJP-ruled Uttar Pradeshand Madhya Pradesh and the UT of Jammu & Kashmir, which account for another about 26 per cent of the total dues of Rs 1,14,222 crore owed to power generation companies. Government data updated till March 31, 2022, show that states owe Rs 62,931 crore for services and another Rs 76,337 crore against cost of freebies announced by them to state discoms.Among the states that have defaulted on payments to discoms, Telangana leads the chart with a cumulative outstanding of Rs 11,915 crore, followed by Maharashtra at Rs 9,131 crore. Uttar Pradesh leads the pack among states that have not made payments to discoms for subsidies at Rs 18,946 crore, followed by Madhya Pradesh at Rs 16,240 crore. While the top three together owe Rs 65,041 crore, the next three BJP-ruled states owe Rs 29,280 crore of the total, according to PRAAPTI (Payment Ratification And Analysis in Power procurement for bringing Transparency in Invoicing of generators) data till July 31, 2022.

Electricity Amendment Bill faces Opposition protests, sent to House panel