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National Electricity Policy

The Gazette of India

PART I – Section 1
No…., New Delhi, Dated ….
Ministry of Power

New Delhi,
Dated the 12th, February, 2005


No. 23/40/2004-R&R (Vol.II)


1.1 In compliance with section 3 of the Electricity Act 2003 the Central Government hereby notifies the National Electricity Policy.

1.2 Electricity is an essential requirement for all facets of our life. It has been recognized as a basic human need. It is a critical infrastructure on which the socio-economic development of the country depends. Supply of electricity at reasonable rate to rural India is essential for its overall development. Equally important is availability of reliable and quality power at competitive rates to Indian industry to make it globally competitive and to enable it to exploit the tremendous potential of employment generation. Services sector has made significant contribution to the growth of our economy. Availability of quality supply of electricity is very crucial to sustained growth of this segment.

1.3 Recognizing that electricity is one of the key drivers for rapid economic growth and poverty alleviation, the nation has set itself the target of providing access to all households in next five years. As per Census 2001, about 44% of the households do not have access to electricity. Hence meeting the target of providing universal access is a daunting task requiring significant addition to generation capacity and expansion of the transmission and distribution network.

1.4 Indian Power sector is witnessing major changes. Growth of Power Sector in India since its Independence has been noteworthy. However, the demand for power has been outstripping the growth of availability. Substantial peak and energy shortages prevail in the country. This is due to inadequacies in generation, transmission & distribution as well as inefficient use of electricity. Very high level of technical and commercial losses and lack of commercial approach in management of utilities has led to unsustainable financial operations. Cross-subsidies have risen to unsustainable levels. Inadequacies in distribution networks has been one of the major reasons for poor quality of supply.

1.5 Electricity industry is capital-intensive having long gestation period. Resources of power generation are unevenly dispersed across the country. Electricity is a commodity that can not be stored in the grid where demand and supply have to be continuously balanced. The widely distributed and rapidly increasing demand requirements of the country need to be met in an optimum manner.

1.6 Electricity Act, 2003 provides an enabling framework for accelerated and more efficient development of the power sector. The Act seeks to encourage competition with appropriate regulatory intervention. Competition is expected to yield efficiency gains and in turn result in availability of quality supply of electricity to consumers at competitive rates.

1.7 Section 3 (1) of the Electricity Act 2003 requires the Central Government to formulate, inter alia, the National Electricity Policy in consultation with Central Electricity Authority (CEA) and State Governments. The provision is quoted below:

“The Central Government shall, from time to time, prepare the National Electricity Policy and tariff policy, in consultation with the State Governments and the Authority for development of the power system based on optimal utilization of resources such as coal, natural gas, nuclear substances or materials, hydro and renewable sources of energy”.

Section 3 (3) of the Act enables the Central Government to review or revise the National Electricity Policy from time to


1.8 The National Electricity Policy aims at laying guidelines for accelerated development of the power sector, providing supply of electricity to all areas and protecting interests of consumers and other stakeholders keeping in view availability of energy resources, technology available to exploit these resources, economics of generation using different resources, and energy security issues.

1.9 The National Electricity Policy has been evolved in consultation with and taking into account views of the State Governments, Central Electricity Authority (CEA), Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) and other stakeholders.


The National Electricity Policy aims at achieving the following objectives:

  • Access to Electricity – Available for all households in next five years
  • Availability of Power – Demand to be fully met by 2012. Energy and peaking shortages to be overcome and adequate spinning reserve to be available.
  • Supply of Reliable and Quality Power of specified standards in an efficient manner and at reasonable rates.
  • Per capita availability of electricity to be increased to over 1000 units by 2012.
  • Minimum lifeline consumption of 1 unit/household/day as a merit good by year 2012.
  • Financial Turnaround and Commercial Viability of Electricity Sector.
  • Protection of consumers’ interests.


3.1 Assessment of demand is an important pre-requisite for planning capacity addition. Section 3 (4) of the Act requires the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) to frame a National Electricity Plan once in five years and revise the same from time to time in accordance with the National Electricity Policy. Also, section 73 (a) provides that formulation of short-term and perspective plans for development of the electricity system and coordinating the activities of various planning agencies for the optimal utilization of resources to subserve the interests of the national economy shall be one of the functions of the CEA. The Plan prepared by CEA and approved by the Central Government can be used by prospective generating companies, transmission utilities and transmission/distribution licensees as reference document.

3.2 Accordingly, the CEA shall prepare short-term and perspective plan. The National Electricity Plan would be for a short-term framework of five years while giving a 15 year perspective and would include:

  • Short-term and long term demand forecast for different regions;
  • Suggested areas/locations for capacity additions in generation and transmission keeping in view the economics of generation and transmission, losses in the system, load centre requirements, grid stability, security of supply, quality of power including voltage profile etc. and environmental considerations including rehabilitation and resettlement;
  • Integration of such possible locations with transmission system and development of national grid including type of transmission systems and requirement of redundancies; and
  • Different technologies available for efficient generation, transmission and distribution.
  • Fuel choices based on economy, energy security and environmental considerations.

3.3 While evolving the National Electricity Plan, CEA will consult all the stakeholders including state governments and the state governments would, at state level, undertake this exercise in coordination with stakeholders including distribution licensees and STUs. While conducting studies periodically to assess short-term and long-term demand, projections made by distribution utilities would be given due weightage. CEA will also interact with institutions and agencies having economic expertise, particularly in the field of demand forecasting. Projected growth rates for different sectors of the economy will also be taken into account in the exercise of demand forecasting.

3.4 The National Electricity Plan for the ongoing 10th Plan period and 11th Plan and perspective Plan for the 10th, 11th & 12th Plan periods would be prepared and notified after reviewing and revising the existing Power Plan prepared by CEA. This will be done within six months.


The policy seeks to address the following issues:

  • Rural Electrification
  • Generation
  • Transmission
  • Distribution
  • Recovery of Cost of services & Targetted Subsidies.
  • Technology Development and Research and Development (R&D)
  • Competition aimed at Consumer Benefits
  • Financing Power Sector Programmes Including Private Sector Participation.
  • Energy Conservation
  • Environmental Issues
  • Training and Human Resource Development
  • Cogeneration and Non-Conventional Energy Sources
  • Protection of Consumer interests and Quality Standards


5.1.1 The key development objective of the power sector is supply of electricity to all areas including rural areas as mandated in section 6 of the Electricity Act. Both the central government and state governments would jointly endeavour to achieve this objective at the earliest. Consumers, particularly those who are ready to pay a tariff which reflects efficient costs have the right to get uninterrupted twenty four hours supply of quality power. About 56% of rural households have not yet been electrified even though many of these households are willing to pay for electricity. Determined efforts should be made to ensure that the task of rural electrification for securing electricity access to all households and also ensuring that electricity reaches poor and marginal sections of the society at reasonable rates is completed within the next five years.

5.1.2 Reliable rural electrification system will aim at creating the following:

(a) Rural Electrification Distribution Backbone (REDB) with at least one 33/11 kv (or 66/11 kv) substation in every Block and more if required as per load, networked and connected appropriately to the state transmission system

(b) Emanating from REDB would be supply feeders and one distribution transformer at least in every village settlement.

(c) Household Electrification from distribution transformer to connect every household on demand.

(d) Wherever above is not feasible (it is neither cost effective nor the optimal solution to provide grid connectivity) decentralized distributed generation facilities together with local distribution network would be provided so that every household gets access to electricity. This would be done either through conventional or non-conventional methods of electricity generation whichever is more suitable and economical. Non-conventional sources of energy could be utilized even where grid connectivity exists provided it is found to be cost effective.

(e) Development of infrastructure would also cater for requirement of agriculture & other economic activities including irrigation pump sets, small and medium industries, khadi and village industries, cold chain and social services like health and education.

5.1.3 Particular attention would be given in household electrification to dalit bastis, tribal areas and other weaker sections.

5.1.4 Rural Electrification Corporation of India, a Government of India enterprise will be the nodal agency at Central Government level to implement the programme for achieving the goal set by National Common Minimum Programme of giving access to electricity to all the households in next five years. Its role is being suitably enlarged to ensure timely implementation of rural electrification projects.
5.1.5 Targetted expansion in access to electricity for rural households in the desired timeframe can be achieved if the distribution licensees recover at least the cost of electricity and related O&M expenses from consumers, except for lifeline support to households below the poverty line who would need to be adequately subsidized. Subsidies should be properly targeted at the intended beneficiaries in the most efficient manner. Government recognizes the need for providing necessary capital subsidy and soft long-term debt finances for investment in rural electrification as this would reduce the cost of supply in rural areas. Adequate funds would need to be made available for the same through the Plan process. Also commensurate organizational support would need to be created for timely implementation. The Central Government would assist the State Governments in achieving this.

5.1.6 Necessary institutional framework would need to be put in place not only to ensure creation of rural electrification infrastructure but also to operate and maintain supply system for securing reliable power supply to consumers. Responsibility of operation & maintenance and cost recovery could be discharged by utilities through appropriate arrangements with Panchayats, local authorities, NGOs and other franchisees etc.

5.1.7 The gigantic task of rural electrification requires appropriate cooperation among various agencies of the State Governments, Central Government and participation of the community. Education and awareness programmes would be essential for creating demand for electricity and for achieving the objective of effective community participation.


5.2.1 Inadequacy of generation has characterized power sector operation in India. To provide availability of over 1000 units of per capita electricity by year 2012 it had been estimated that need based capacity addition of more than 1,00,000 MW would be required during the period 2002-12.

5.2.2 The Government of India has initiated several reform measures to create a favourable environment for addition of new generating capacity in the country. The Electricity Act 2003 has put in place a highly liberal framework for generation. There is no requirement of licensing for generation. The requirement of techno-economic clearance of CEA for thermal generation project is no longer there. For hydroelectric generation also, the limit of capital expenditure, above which concurrence of CEA is required, would be raised suitably from the present level. Captive generation has been freed from all controls.

5.2.3 In order to fully meet both energy and peak demand by 2012, there is a need to create adequate reserve capacity margin. In addition to enhancing the overall availability of installed capacity to 85%, a spinning reserve of at least 5%, at national level, would need to be created to ensure grid security and quality and reliability of power supply.

5.2.4 The progress of implementation of capacity addition plans and growth of demand would need to be constantly monitored and necessary adjustments made from time to time. In creating new generation capacities, appropriate technology may be considered keeping in view the likely widening of the difference between peak demand and the base load.

Hydro Generation

5.2.5 Hydroelectricity is a clean and renewable source of energy. Maximum emphasis would be laid on the full development of the feasible hydro potential in the country. The 50,000 MW hydro initiative has been already launched and is being vigorously pursued with DPRs for projects of 33,000 MW capacity already under preparation.

5.2.6 Harnessing hydro potential speedily will also facilitate economic development of States, particularly North-Eastern States, Sikkim, Uttaranchal, Himachal Pradesh and J&K, since a large proportion of our hydro power potential is located in these States. The States with hydro potential need to focus on the full development of these potentials at the earliest.

5.2.7 Hydel projects call for comparatively larger capital investment. Therefore, debt financing of longer tenure would need to be made available for hydro projects. Central Government is committed to policies that ensure financing of viable hydro projects.

5.2.8 State Governments need to review procedures for land acquisition, and other approvals/clearances for speedy implementation of hydroelectric projects.

5.2.9 The Central Government will support the State Governments for expeditious development of their hydroelectric projects by offering services of Central Public Sector Undertakings like National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC).

5.2.10 Proper implementation of National Policy on Rehabilitation and Resettlement (R&R) would be essential in this regard so as to ensure that the concerns of project-affected families are addressed adequately.

5.2.11 Adequate safeguards for environmental protection with suitable mechanism for monitoring of implementation of Environmental Action Plan and R&R Schemes will be put in place.

Thermal Generation

5.2.12 Even with full development of the feasible hydro potential in the country, coal would necessarily continue to remain the primary fuel for meeting future electricity demand.

5.2.13 Imported coal based thermal power stations, particularly at coastal locations, would be encouraged based on their economic viability. Use of low ash content coal would also help in reducing the problem of fly ash emissions.

5.2.14 Significant Lignite resources in the country are located in Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Rajasthan and these should be increasingly utilized for power generation. Lignite mining technology needs to be improved to reduce costs.

5.2.15 Use of gas as a fuel for power generation would depend upon its availability at reasonable prices. Natural gas is being used in Gas Turbine /Combined Cycle Gas Turbine (GT/CCGT) stations, which currently accounts for about 10 % of total capacity. Power sector consumes about 40% of the total gas in the country. New power generation capacity could come up based on indigenous gas findings, which can emerge as a major source of power generation if prices are reasonable. A national gas grid covering various parts of the country could facilitate development of such capacities.

5.2.16 Imported LNG based power plants are also a potential source of electricity and the pace of their development would depend on their commercial viability. The existing power plants using liquid fuels should shift to use of Natural Gas/LNG at the earliest to reduce the cost of generation.

5.2.17 For thermal power, economics of generation and supply of electricity should be the basis for choice of fuel from among the options available. It would be economical for new generating stations to be located either near the fuel sources e.g. pithead locations or load centres.

5.2.18 Generating companies may enter into medium to long-term fuel supply agreements specially with respect to imported fuels for commercial viability and security of supply.

Nuclear Power

5.2.19 Nuclear power is an established source of energy to meet base load demand. Nuclear power plants are being set up at locations away from coalmines. Share of nuclear power in the overall capacity profile will need to be increased significantly. Economics of generation and resultant tariff will be, among others, important considerations. Public sector investments to create nuclear generation capacity will need to be stepped up. Private sector partnership would also be facilitated to see that not only targets are achieved but exceeded.

Non-conventional Energy Sources

5.2.20 Feasible potential of non-conventional energy resources, mainly small hydro, wind and bio-mass would also need to be exploited fully to create additional power generation capacity. With a view to increase the overall share of non-conventional energy sources in the electricity mix, efforts will be made to encourage private sector participation through suitable promotional measures.

Renovation and Modernization (R&M)

5.2.21 One of the major achievements of the power sector has been a significant increase in availability and plant load factor of thermal power stations specially over the last few years. Renovation and modernization for achieving higher efficiency levels needs to be pursued vigorously and all existing generation capacity should be brought to minimum acceptable standards. The Govt. of India is providing financial support for this purpose.

5.2.22 For projects performing below acceptable standards, R&M should be undertaken as per well-defined plans featuring necessary cost-benefit analysis. If economic operation does not appear feasible through R&M, then there may be no alternative to closure of such plants as the last resort.

5.2.23 In cases of plants with poor O&M record and persisting operational problems, alternative strategies including change of management may need to be considered so as to improve the efficiency to acceptable levels of these power stations.

Captive Generation

5.2.24 The liberal provision in the Electricity Act, 2003 with respect to setting up of captive power plant has been made with a view to not only securing reliable, quality and cost effective power but also to facilitate creation of employment opportunities through speedy and efficient growth of industry.

5.2.25 The provision relating to captive power plants to be set up by group of consumers is primarily aimed at enabling small and medium industries or other consumers that may not individually be in a position to set up plant of optimal size in a cost effective manner. It needs to be noted that efficient expansion of small and medium industries across the country would lead to creation of enormous employment opportunities.

5.2.26 A large number of captive and standby generating stations in India have surplus capacity that could be supplied to the grid continuously or during certain time periods. These plants offer a sizeable and potentially competitive capacity that could be harnessed for meeting demand for power. Under the Act, captive generators have access to licensees and would get access to consumers who are allowed open access. Grid inter-connections for captive generators shall be facilitated as per section 30 of the Act. This should be done on priority basis to enable captive generation to become available as distributed generation along the grid. Towards this end, non-conventional energy sources including co-generation could also play a role. Appropriate commercial arrangements would need to be instituted between licensees and the captive generators for harnessing of spare capacity energy from captive power plants. The appropriate Regulatory Commission shall exercise regulatory oversight on such commercial arrangements between captive generators and licensees and determine tariffs when a licensee is the off-taker of power from captive plant.


5.3.1 The Transmission System requires adequate and timely investments and also efficient and coordinated action to develop a robust and integrated power system for the country.

5.3.2 Keeping in view the massive increase planned in generation and also for development of power market, there is need for adequately augmenting transmission capacity. While planning new generation capacities, requirement of associated transmission capacity would need to be worked out simultaneously in order to avoid mismatch between generation capacity and transmission facilities. The policy emphasizes the following to meet the above objective:

  • The Central Government would facilitate the continued development of the National Grid for providing adequate infrastructure for inter-state transmission of power and to ensure that underutilized generation capacity is facilitated to generate electricity for its transmission from surplus regions to deficit regions.
  • The Central Transmission Utility (CTU) and State Transmission Utility (STU) have the key responsibility of network planning and development based on the National Electricity Plan in coordination with all concerned agencies as provided in the Act. The CTU is responsible for the national and regional transmission system planning and development. The STU is responsible for planning and development of the intra-state transmission system. The CTU would need to coordinate with the STUs for achievement of the shared objective of eliminating transmission constraints in cost effective manner.
  • Network expansion should be planned and implemented keeping in view the anticipated transmission needs that would be incident on the system in the open access regime. Prior agreement with the beneficiaries would not be a pre-condition for network expansion. CTU/STU should undertake network expansion after identifying the requirements in consultation with stakeholders and taking up the execution after due regulatory approvals.
  • Structured information dissemination and disclosure procedures should be developed by the CTU and STUs to ensure that all stakeholders are aware of the status of generation and transmission projects and plans. These should form a part of the overall planning procedures.
  • The State Regulatory Commissions who have not yet notified the grid code under the Electricity Act 2003 should notify the same not later than September 2005.

5.3.3 Open access in transmission has been introduced to promote competition amongst the generating companies who can now sell to different distribution licensees across the country. This should lead to availability of cheaper power. The Act mandates non-discriminatory open access in transmission from the very beginning. When open access to distribution networks is introduced by the respective State Commissions for enabling bulk consumers to buy directly from competing generators, competition in the market would increase the availability of cheaper and reliable power supply. The Regulatory Commissions need to provide facilitative framework for non-discriminatory open access. This requires load dispatch facilities with state-of-the art communication and data acquisition capability on a real time basis. While this is the case currently at the regional load dispatch centers, appropriate State Commissions must ensure that matching facilities with technology upgrades are provided at the State level, where necessary and realized not later than June 2006.

5.3.4 The Act prohibits the State transmission utilities/transmission licensees from engaging in trading in electricity. Power purchase agreements (PPAs) with the generating companies would need to be suitably assigned to the Distribution Companies, subject to mutual agreement. To the extent necessary, such assignments can be done in a manner to take care of different load profiles of the Distribution Companies. Non-discriminatory open access shall be provided to competing generators supplying power to licensees upon payment of transmission charge to be determined by the appropriate Commission. The appropriate Commissions shall establish such transmission charges no later than June 2005.

5.3.5 To facilitate orderly growth and development of the power sector and also for secure and reliable operation of the grid, adequate margins in transmission system should be created. The transmission capacity would be planned and built to cater to both the redundancy levels and margins keeping in view international standards and practices. A well planned and strong transmission system will ensure not only optimal utilization of transmission capacities but also of generation facilities and would facilitate achieving ultimate objective of cost effective delivery of power. To facilitate cost effective transmission of power across the region, a national transmission tariff framework needs to be implemented by CERC. The tariff mechanism would be sensitive to distance, direction and related to quantum of flow. As far as possible, consistency needs to be maintained in transmission pricing framework in inter-State and intra-State systems. Further it should be ensured that the present network deficiencies do not result in unreasonable transmission loss compensation requirements.

5.3.6 The necessary regulatory framework for providing non-discriminatory open access in transmission as mandated in the Electricity Act 2003 is essential for signalling efficient choice in locating generation capacity and for encouraging trading in electricity for optimum utilization of generation resources and consequently for reducing the cost of supply.

5.3.7 The spirit of the provisions of the Act is to ensure independent system operation through NLDC, RLDCs and SLDCs. These dispatch centers, as per the provisions of the Act, are to be operated by a Government company or authority as notified by the appropriate Government. However, till such time these agencies/authorities are established the Act mandates that the CTU or STU, as the case may be, shall operate the RLDCs or SLDC. The arrangement of CTU operating the RLDCs would be reviewed by the Central Government based on experience of working with the existing arrangement. A view on this aspect would be taken by the Central Government by December 2005.

5.3.8 The Regional Power Committees as envisaged in section section 2(55) would be constituted by the Government of India within two months with representation from various stakeholders.

5.3.9 The National Load Despatch Centre (NLDC) along with its constitution and functions as envisaged in Section 26 of the Electricity Act 2003 would be notified within three months. RLDCs and NLDC will have complete responsibility and commensurate authority for smooth operation of the grid irrespective of the ownership of the transmission system, be it under CPSUs, State Utility or private sector.

5.3.10 Special mechanisms would be created to encourage private investment in transmission sector so that sufficient investments are made for achieving the objective of demand to be fully met by 2012.


5.4.1 Distribution is the most critical segment of the electricity business chain. The real challenge of reforms in the power sector lies in efficient management of the distribution sector.

5.4.2 The Act provides for a robust regulatory framework for distribution licensees to safeguard consumer interests. It also creates a competitive framework for the distribution business, offering options to consumers, through the concepts of open access and multiple licensees in the same area of supply.

5.4.3 For achieving efficiency gains proper restructuring of distribution utilities is essential. Adequate transition financing support would also be necessary for these utilities. Such support should be arranged linked to attainment of predetermined efficiency improvements and reduction in cash losses and putting in place appropriate governance structure for insulating the service providers from extraneous interference while at the same time ensuring transparency and accountability. For ensuring financial viability and sustainability, State Governments would need to restructure the liabilities of the State Electricity Boards to ensure that the successor companies are not burdened with past liabilities. The Central Government would also assist the States, which develop a clear roadmap for turnaround, in arranging transition financing from various sources which shall be linked to predetermined improvements and efficiency gains aimed at attaining financial viability and also putting in place appropriate governance structures.

5.4.4 Conducive business environment in terms of adequate returns and suitable transitional model with predetermined improvements in efficiency parameters in distribution business would be necessary for facilitating funding and attracting investments in distribution. Multi-Year Tariff (MYT) framework is an important structural incentive to minimize risks for utilities and consumers, promote efficiency and rapid reduction of system losses. It would serve public interest through economic efficiency and improved service quality. It would also bring greater predictability to consumer tariffs by restricting tariff adjustments to known indicators such as power purchase prices and inflation indices. Private sector participation in distribution needs to be encouraged for achieving the requisite reduction in transmission and distribution losses and improving the quality of service to the consumers.

5.4.5 The Electricity Act 2003 enables competing generating companies and trading licensees, besides the area distribution licensees, to sell electricity to consumers when open access in distribution is introduced by the State Electricity Regulatory Commissions. As required by the Act, the SERCs shall notify regulations by June 2005 that would enable open access to distribution networks in terms of sub-section 2 of section 42 which stipulates that such open access would be allowed, not later than five years from 27th January 2004 to consumers who require a supply of electricity where the maximum power to be made available at any time exceeds one mega watt. Section 49 of the Act provides that such consumers who have been allowed open access under section 42 may enter into agreement with any person for supply of electricity on such terms and conditions, including tariff, as may be agreed upon by them. While making regulations for open access in distribution, the SERCs will also determine wheeling charges and cross-subsidy surcharge as required under section 42 of the Act.

5.4.6 A time-bound programme should be drawn up by the State Electricity Regulatory Commissions (SERC) for segregation of technical and commercial losses through energy audits. Energy accounting and declaration of its results in each defined unit, as determined by SERCs, should be mandatory not later than March 2007. An action plan for reduction of the losses with adequate investments and suitable improvements in governance should be drawn up. Standards for reliability and quality of supply as well as for loss levels shall also be specified ,from time to time, so as to bring these in line with international practices by year 2012.

5.4.7 One of the key provisions of the Act on competition in distribution is the concept of multiple licensees in the same area of supply through their independent distribution systems. State Governments have full flexibility in carving out distribution zones while restructuring the Government utilities. For grant of second and subsequent distribution licence within the area of an incumbent distribution licensee, a revenue district, a Municipal Council for a smaller urban area or a Municipal Corporation for a larger urban area as defined in the Article 243(Q) of Constitution of India (74th Amendment) may be considered as the minimum area. The Government of India would notify within three months, the requirements for compliance by applicant for second and subsequent distribution licence as envisaged in Section 14 of the Act. With a view to provide benefits of competition to all section of consumers, the second and subsequent licensee for distribution in the same area shall have obligation to supply to all consumers in accordance with provisions of section 43 of the Electricity Act 2003. The SERCs are required to regulate the tariff including connection charges to be recovered by a distribution licensee under the provisions of the Act. This will ensure that second distribution licensee does not resort to cherry picking by demanding unreasonable connection charges from consumers.

5.4.8 The Act mandates supply of electricity through a correct meter within a stipulated period. The Authority should develop regulations as required under Section 55 of the Act within three months.

5.4.9 The Act requires all consumers to be metered within two years. The SERCs may obtain from the Distribution Licensees their metering plans, approve these, and monitor the same. The SERCs should encourage use of pre-paid meters. In the first instance, TOD meters for large consumers with a minimum load of one MVA are also to be encouraged. The SERCs should also put in place independent third-party meter testing arrangements.

5.4.10 Modern information technology systems may be implemented by the utilities on a priority basis, after considering cost and benefits, to facilitate creation of network information and customer data base which will help in management of load, improvement in quality, detection of theft and tampering, customer information and prompt and correct billing and collection . Special emphasis should be placed on consumer indexing and mapping in a time bound manner. Support is being provided for information technology based systems under the Accelerated Power Development and Reforms Programme (APDRP).

5.4.11 High Voltage Distribution System is an effective method for reduction of technical losses, prevention of theft, improved voltage profile and better consumer service. It should be promoted to reduce LT/HT ratio keeping in view the techno economic considerations.

5.4.12 SCADA and data management systems are useful for efficient working of Distribution Systems. A time bound programme for implementation of SCADA and data management system should be obtained from Distribution Licensees and approved by the SERCs keeping in view the techno economic considerations. Efforts should be made to install substation automation equipment in a phased manner.

5.4.13 The Act has provided for stringent measures against theft of electricity. The States and distribution utilities should ensure effective implementation of these provisions. The State Governments may set up Special Courts as envisaged in Section 153 of the Act.


5.5.1 There is an urgent need for ensuring recovery of cost of service from consumers to make the power sector sustainable.

5.5.2 A minimum level of support may be required to make the electricity affordable for consumers of very poor category. Consumers below poverty line who consume below a specified level, say 30 units per month, may receive special support in terms of tariff which are cross-subsidized. Tariffs for such designated group of consumers will be at least 50 % of the average (overall) cost of supply. This provision will be further re-examined after five years.

5.5.3 Over the last few decades cross-subsidies have increased to unsustainable levels. Cross-subsidies hide inefficiencies and losses in operations. There is urgent need to correct this imbalance without giving tariff shock to consumers. The existing cross-subsidies for other categories of consumers would need to be reduced progressively and gradually.

5.5.4 The State Governments may give advance subsidy to the extent they consider appropriate in terms of section 65 of the Act in which case necessary budget provision would be required to be made in advance so that the utility does not suffer financial problems that may affect its operations. Efforts would be made to ensure that the subsidies reach the targeted beneficiaries in the most transparent and efficient way.


5.6.1 Effective utilization of all available resources for generation, transmission and distribution of electricity using efficient and cost effective technologies is of paramount importance. Operations and management of vast and complex power systems require coordination among the multiple agencies involved. Effective control of power system at state, regional and national level can be achieved only through use of Information Technology. Application of IT has great potential in reducing technical & commercial losses in distribution and providing consumer friendly services. Integrated resource planning and demand side management would also require adopting state of the art technologies.

Special efforts would be made for research, development demonstration and commercialization of non-conventional energy systems. Such systems would need to meet international standards, specifications and performance parameters.

5.6.2 Efficient technologies, like super critical technology, IGCC etc and large size units would be gradually introduced for generation of electricity as their cost effectiveness is established. Simultaneously, development and deployment of technologies for productive use of fly ash would be given priority and encouragement.

5.6.3 Similarly, cost effective technologies would require to be developed for high voltage power flows over long distances with minimum possible losses. Specific information technology tools need to be developed for meeting the requirements of the electricity industry including highly sophisticated control systems for complex generation and transmission operations, efficient distribution business and user friendly consumer interface.

5.6.4 The country has a strong research and development base in the electricity sector which would be further augmented. R&D activities would be further intensified and Missions will be constituted for achieving desired results in identified priority areas. A suitable funding mechanism would be evolved for promoting R& D in the Power Sector. Large power companies should set aside a portion of their profits for support to R&D.


5.7.1 To promote market development, a part of new generating capacities, say 15% may be sold outside long-term PPAs . As the power markets develop, it would be feasible to finance projects with competitive generation costs outside the long-term power purchase agreement framework. In the coming years, a significant portion of the installed capacity of new generating stations could participate in competitive power markets. This will increase the depth of the power markets and provide alternatives for both generators and licensees/consumers and in long run would lead to reduction in tariff.
For achieving this, the policy underscores the following:-

  1. It is the function of the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission to issue license for inter-state trading which would include authorization for trading throughout the country.
  2. The ABT regime introduced by CERC at the national level has had a positive impact. It has also enabled a credible settlement mechanism for intra-day power transfers from licenses with surpluses to licenses experiencing deficits. SERCs are advised to introduce the ABT regime at the State level within one year.
  3. Captive generating plants should be permitted to sell electricity to licensees and consumers when they are allowed open access by SERCs under section 42 of the Act .
  4. Development of power market would need to be undertaken by the Appropriate Commission in consultation with all concerned.
  5. The Central Commission and the State Commissions are empowered to make regulations under section 178 and section 181 of the Act respectively. These regulations will ensure implementation of various provisions of the Act regarding encouragement to competition and also consumer protection. The Regulatory Commissions are advised to notify various regulations expeditiously.
  6. Enabling regulations for inter and intra State trading and also regulations on power exchange shall be notified by the appropriate Commissions within six months.


5.8.1 To meet the objective of rapid economic growth and “power for all” including household electrification, it is estimated that an investment of the order of Rs.9,00,000 crores at 2002-03 price level would be required to finance generation, transmission, sub-transmission, distribution and rural electrification projects. Power being most crucial infrastructure, public sector investments, both at the Central Government and State Governments, will have to be stepped up. Considering the magnitude of the expansion of the sector required, a sizeable part of the investments will also need to be brought in from the private sector. The Act creates a conducive environment for investments in all segments of the industry, both for public sector and private sector, by removing barrier to entry in different segments. Section 63 of the Act provides for participation of suppliers on competitive basis in different segments which will further encourage private sector investment. Public service obligations like increasing access to electricity to rural households and small and marginal farmers have highest priority over public finances.

5.8.2 The public sector should be able to raise internal resources so as to at least meet the equity requirement of investments even after suitable gross budgetary support from the Government at the Centre and in the states in order to complete their on-going projects in a time-bound manner. Expansion of public sector investments would be dependent on the financial viability of the proposed projects. It would, therefore, be imperative that an appropriate surplus is generated through return on investments and, at the same time, depreciation reserve created so as to fully meet the debt service obligation. This will not only enable financial closure but also bankability of the project would be improved for expansion programmes, with the Central and State level public sector organizations, as also private sector projects, being in a position to fulfil their obligations toward equity funding and debt repayments.

5.8.3 Under sub-section (2) of Section 42 of the Act, a surcharge is to be levied by the respective State Commissions on consumers switching to alternate supplies under open access. This is to compensate the host distribution licensee serving such consumers who are permitted open access under section 42(2), for loss of the cross-subsidy element built into the tariff of such consumers. An additional surcharge may also be levied under sub-section (4) of Section 42 for meeting the fixed cost of the distribution licensee arising out of his obligation to supply in cases where consumers are allowed open access. The amount of surcharge and additional surcharge levied from consumers who are permitted open access should not become so onerous that it eliminates competition that is intended to be fostered in generation and supply of power directly to consumers through the provision of Open Access under Section 42(2) of the Act. Further it is essential that the Surcharge be reduced progressively in step with the reduction of cross-subsidies as foreseen in Section 42(2) of the Electricity Act 2003.

5.8.4 Capital is scarce. Private sector will have multiple options for investments. Return on investment will, therefore, need to be provided in a manner that the sector is able to attract adequate investments at par with, if not in preference to, investment opportunities in other sectors. This would obviously be based on a clear understanding and evaluation of opportunities and risks. An appropriate balance will have to be maintained between the interests of consumers and the need for investments.

5.8.5 All efforts will have to be made to improve the efficiency of operations in all the segments of the industry. Suitable performance norms of operations together with incentives and disincentives will need to be evolved along with appropriate arrangement for sharing the gains of efficient operations with the consumers . This will ensure protection of consumers’ interests on the one hand and provide motivation for improving the efficiency of operations on the other.

5.8.6 Competition will bring significant benefits to consumers , in which case, it is competition which will determine the price rather than any cost plus exercise on the basis of operating norms and parameters. All efforts will need to be made to bring the power industry to this situation as early as possible, in the overall interest of consumers. Detailed guidelines for competitive bidding as stipulated in section 63 of the Act have been issued by the Central Government.

5.8.7 It will be necessary that all the generating companies, transmission licensees and distribution licensees receive due payments for effective discharge of their operational obligations as also for enabling them to make fresh investments needed for the expansion programmes. Financial viability of operations and businesses would, therefore, be essential for growth and development of the sector. Concerted efforts would be required for restoring the financial health of the sector. For this purpose, tariff rationalization would need to be ensured by the SERCs. This would also include differential pricing for base, intermediate and peak power.

5.8.8 Steps would also be taken to address the need for regulatory certainty based on independence of the regulatory commissions and transparency in their functioning to generate investor’s confidence.

5.8.9 Role of private participation in generation, transmission and distribution would become increasingly critical in view of the rapidly growing investment needs of the sector. The Central Government and the State Governments need to develop workable and successful models for public private partnership. This would also enable leveraging private investment with the public sector finances. Mechanisms for continuous dialogue with industry for streamlining procedures for encouraging private participation in power sector need to be put in place.

Transmission & Distribution Losses

5.8.10 It would have to be clearly recognized that Power Sector will remain unviable until T&D losses are brought down significantly and rapidly. A large number of States have been reporting losses of over 40% in the recent years. By any standards, these are unsustainable and imply a steady decline of power sector operations. Continuation of the present level of losses would not only pose a threat to the power sector operations but also jeopardize the growth prospects of the economy as a whole. No reforms can succeed in the midst of such large pilferages on a continuing basis.

The State Governments would prepare a Five Year Plan with annual milestones to bring down these losses expeditiously. Community participation, effective enforcement, incentives for entities, staff and consumers, and technological upgradation should form part of campaign efforts for reducing these losses. The Central Government will provide incentive based assistance to States that are able to reduce losses as per agreed programmes.


5.9.1 There is a significant potential of energy savings through energy efficiency and demand side management measures. In order to minimize the overall requirement, energy conservation and demand side management (DSM) is being accorded high priority. The Energy Conservation Act has been enacted and the Bureau of Energy Efficiency has been setup.

5.9.2 The potential number of installations where demand side management and energy conservation measures are to be carried out is very large. Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) shall initiate action in this regard. BEE would also make available the estimated conservation and DSM potential, its staged implementation along with cost estimates for consideration in the planning process for National Electricity Plan.

5.9.3 Periodic energy audits have been made compulsory for power intensive industries under the Energy Conservation Act. Other industries may also be encouraged to adopt energy audits and energy conservation measures. Energy conservation measures shall be adopted in all Government buildings for which saving potential has been estimated to be about 30% energy. Solar water heating systems and solar passive architecture can contribute significantly to this effort.

5.9.4 In the field of energy conservation initial approach would be voluntary and self-regulating with emphasis on labelling of appliances. Gradually as awareness increases, a more regulatory approach of setting standards would be followed.

5.9.5 In the agriculture sector, the pump sets and the water delivery system engineered for high efficiency would be promoted. In the industrial sector, energy efficient technologies should be used and energy audits carried out to indicate scope for energy conservation measures. Motors and drive system are the major source of high consumption in Agricultural and Industrial Sector. These need to be addressed. Energy efficient lighting technologies should also be adopted in industries, commercial and domestic establishments.

5.9.6 In order to reduce the requirements for capacity additions, the difference between electrical power demand during peak periods and off-peak periods would have to be reduced. Suitable load management techniques should be adopted for this purpose. Differential tariff structure for peak and off peak supply and metering arrangements (Time of Day metering) should be conducive to load management objectives. Regulatory Commissions should ensure adherence to energy efficiency standards by utilities.

5.9.7 For effective implementation of energy conservation measures, role of Energy Service Companies would be enlarged. Steps would be taken to encourage and incentivise emergence of such companies.

5.9.8 A national campaign for bringing about awareness about energy conservation would be essential to achieve efficient consumption of electricity.

5.9.9. A National Action Plan has been developed. Progress on all the proposed measures will be monitored with reference to the specific plans of action.


5.10.1 Environmental concerns would be suitably addressed through appropriate advance action by way of comprehensive Environmental Impact Assessment and implementation of Environment Action Plan (EAP).

5.10.2 Steps would be taken for coordinating the efforts for streamlining the procedures in regard to grant of environmental clearances including setting up of ‘Land Bank’ and ‘Forest Bank’.

5.10.3 Appropriate catchment area treatment for hydro projects would also be ensured and monitored.

5.10.4 Setting up of coal washeries will be encouraged. Suitable steps would also be taken so that utilization of fly ash is ensured as per environmental guidelines.

5.10.5 Setting up of municipal solid waste energy projects in urban areas and recovery of energy from industrial effluents will also be encouraged with a view to reducing environmental pollution apart from generating additional energy.

5.10.6 Full compliance with prescribed environmental norms and standards must be achieved in operations of all generating plants.


In the new reforms framework ushered by Electricity Act 2003, it is particularly important that the electricity industry has access to properly trained human resource. Therefore, concerted action would be taken for augmenting training infrastructure so that adequate well-trained human resource is made available as per the need of the industry. Special attention would need to be paid by the industry for establishing training infrastructure in the field of electricity distribution, regulation, trading and power markets. Efforts should be made so that personnel of electricity supply industry both in the private and public sector become more cost-conscious and consumer-friendly.


5.12.1 Non-conventional sources of energy being the most environment friendly there is an urgent need to promote generation of electricity based on such sources of energy. For this purpose, efforts need to be made to reduce the capital cost of projects based on non-conventional and renewable sources of energy. Cost of energy can also be reduced by promoting competition within such projects. At the same time, adequate promotional measures would also have to be taken for development of technologies and a sustained growth of these sources.

5.12.2 The Electricity Act 2003 provides that co-generation and generation of electricity from non-conventional sources would be promoted by the SERCs by providing suitable measures for connectivity with grid and sale of electricity to any person and also by specifying, for purchase of electricity from such sources, a percentage of the total consumption of electricity in the area of a distribution licensee. Such percentage for purchase of power from non-conventional sources should be made applicable for the tariffs to be determined by the SERCs at the earliest. Progressively the share of electricity from non-conventional sources would need to be increased as prescribed by State Electricity Regulatory Commissions. Such purchase by distribution companies shall be through competitive bidding process. Considering the fact that it will take some time before non-conventional technologies compete, in terms of cost, with conventional sources, the Commission may determine an appropriate differential in prices to promote these technologies.

5.12.3 Industries in which both process heat and electricity are needed are well suited for cogeneration of electricity. A significant potential for cogeneration exists in the country, particularly in the sugar industry. SERCs may promote arrangements between the co-generator and the concerned distribution licensee for purchase of surplus power from such plants. Cogeneration system also needs to be encouraged in the overall interest of energy efficiency and also grid stability.


5.13.1 Appropriate Commission should regulate utilities based on pre-determined indices on quality of power supply. Parameters should include, amongst others, frequency and duration of interruption, voltage parameters, harmonics, transformer failure rates, waiting time for restoration of supply, percentage defective meters and waiting list of new connections. The Appropriate Commissions would specify expected standards of performance.

5.13.2 Reliability Index (RI) of supply of power to consumers should be indicated by the distribution licensee. A road map for declaration of RI for all cities and towns up to the District Headquarter towns as also for rural areas, should be drawn by up SERCs. The data of RI should be compiled and published by CEA.

5.13.3 It is advised that all State Commissions should formulate the guidelines regarding setting up of grievance redressal forum by the licensees as also the regulations regarding the Ombudsman and also appoint/designate the Ombudsman within six months.

5.13.4 The Central Government, the State Governments and Electricity Regulatory Commissions should facilitate capacity building of consumer groups and their effective representation before the Regulatory Commissions. This will enhance the efficacy of regulatory process.


6.1 Electricity being a concurrent subject, a well-coordinated approach would be necessary for development of the power sector. This is essential for the attainment of the objective of providing electricity-access to all households in next five years and providing reliable uninterrupted quality power supply to all consumers. The State Governments have a major role, particularly in creation of generation capacity, state level transmission and distribution. The Central Government would assist the States in the attainment of this objective. It would be playing a supportive role in fresh capacity addition and a major role in development of the National Grid. The State Governments need to ensure the success of reforms and restoration of financial health in distribution, which alone can enable the creation of requisite generation capacity. The Regulatory Commissions have the responsibility of ensuring that the regulatory processes facilitate the attainment of this objective. They also have a developmental role whose fulfillment would need a less formal and a consultative process.

The Electricity Act, 2003 also provides for mechanisms like “Coordination forum” and “Advisory Committees” to facilitate consultative process. The Act also requires the Regulatory Commissions to ensure transparency in exercise of their powers and in discharge of their functions. This in no way means that the Regulatory Commissions should follow formal judicial approach. In fact, quick disposal of matters would require an approach involving consultations with stakeholders.

6.2 Under the Act, the Regulatory Commissions are required to perform wide-ranging responsibilities. The appropriate Governments need to take steps to attract regulatory personnel with required background. The Govt. of India would promote the institutional capability to provide training to raise regulatory capacity in terms of the required expertise and skill sets. The appropriate Governments should provide financial autonomy to the Regulatory Commissions. The Act provides that the appropriate Government shall constitute a Fund under section 99 or section 103 of the Act, as the case may be, to be called as Regulatory Commission Fund. The State Governments are advised to establish this Fund expeditiously.

(Ajay Shankar)
Additional Secretary to the Government of India