Power transmission is an integral part of the power sector and is as vital as power generation; there is no value for generating power until the power reaches to the destination for final consumer. The huge amount of power generated in power station is to be transported over a long distance to the load centers to cater to the consumers with the help of transmission lines and transmission towers. Though India has adequate power generation capacity, it has a substantial proportion of population having limited access to electricity mostly because of lack of proper transmission infrastructure. In order to achieve target of affordable electricity for all by 2019 or even by 2022, India serious needs to have robust power transmission network.
Evacuating power safely was the main focus of India’s power transmission sector during the initial years. But as the need for electrification of more areas were realized for economic growth, the role of transmission sector changed a lot. As with the changing scenario, the transmission sector started to move towards integrated system planning because generation capacities are distributed unevenly in different regions. While thermal capacity is in the coal rich eastern region, hydro capacity is concentrated in the hilly regions of North and North-Eastern regions while renewable sources like wind or solar are concentrated in west and south regions. Building on massive power transmission sector thus addressed this issue and helped providing power to regions across the country. Thus power transmission in India is in the integrated system planning of power sector and in last one decade this sector has been getting substantial investments to scale up the infrastructure. Now power transmission is considered as important as power generation.
India’s power transmission sector is mostly controlled by government – both the central and various state governments and various institutions to work in the transmission sector. Till now, with respect to the size of the sector, presence of private sector is negligible though the private sector participation in power transmission is growing gradually with recent policy reforms. In the central sector, the central transmission utility (CTU), known as the Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd (PGCIL), is responsible for national and regional transmission planning while the state sectors have separate State Transmission Utilities (STU).
Power transmission was opened up to the private sector in 2010 with the award of the western regional system strengthening to Reliance Infra and the east-north interconnection line to Sterlite Energy. The CERC in 2011 ruled power transmission projects should be awarded through competitive bidding like generation projects. Power Grid was the only company operating in this area till then. The recently amended National Tariff Policy requires projects apart from those of strategic importance, which are to be nominated to Power Grid, be auctioned. Till now, Tala Transmission Project has been the biggest entry of private sector in power transmission though based on public-private partnership.
Power distribution system is the last stage of electricity sector value chain as it provides power generated in the power generating plants to the final consumers. The main function of an electrical power distribution system is to provide power to individual consumer premises. Distribution of electric power to different consumers is done with much low voltage level. Power distribution in India has more presence of private sector than the transmission sector. Until some time back, the State Electricity Boards (SEBs) used to handle the distribution segment completely. But in last two decades power distribution in a few regions/areas, particularly in large cities has been privatized, however the SEBs or the state DISCOMs are still handling a large part of power distribution.
The sector has started receiving greater attention and investment with the restructuring of the state electricity boards (SEBs). Several new initiatives have been introduced to reduce aggregate technical and commercial (AT&C) losses along with a definitive regulatory framework. Electricity Act 2003, National Electricity Policy 2005 and National Tariff Policy 2006 are important regulations governing the sector today with an aim to bring competition in the sector and improve the services to the end consumers.
Indian government has also made heavy investments in the distribution sector through the Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojna (RGGVY)(now replaced by Deendayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY) and Accelerated Power Development and Reforms Programme (APDRP) during the Tenth Plan and has continued to extend the same in the Eleventh Plan as well. The aim of these programs is to provide access of electricity to all and bring down the AT&C losses to a level of around 15% across the country. The various policies and regulations introduced by the government are set to increase competition and bring about commercial viability. Participation of private players into the Distribution Sector has also been encouraged through various models such as Public Private Participation as in case of Delhi and Orissa and more recently through input based distribution franchisee models in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.
“India Power Transmission & Distribution Sector Opportunity Outlook 2025” Report Highlights