36-month plan: Maha discom to empower 12 lakh houses a year

Written by Pallavi Ail | Mumbai | Updated: Aug 19 2014, 06:59am hrs
Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution, better known as MahaVitaran, is aiming to provide up to 30 lakh domestic connections over the next three years, the highest in any state, as part of its Rs 8,300-crore capital expenditure plan.

The plan, named InfraII, began in late 2013 and has three goals deliver connections on demand, increase system reliability, which implies improving or replacing old infrastructure so that it can manage with an increased load, and reduce technical losses. The primary aim of the new capex plan is to reduce backlog in providing connections to the public.

We should be able to deliver connections as people want. We cant say that we have power, but cannot give you a connection. We should be able to give you connection on demand," said Ajoy Mehta, MD, MahaVitaran.

The company aims to provide 12 lakh connections a year over the next three years. Mehta said apart from the domestic connections, the number includes 1-1.5 lakh agricultural connections and around a lakh of commercial and industrial connections. A senior company official said it costs Rs 1.75 lakh to set up one agricultural connection.

The biggest problem in executing these plans is right of way. People dont want to let you put those poles, they dont want you to dig cables in urban areas, Mehta said. We deal with it by convincing people or, sometimes, we use the law. Under the Telegraph Act, we are allowed to put a line anywhere.

A September 2013 report by Ficci said that though the Electricity Act, 2003, empowers the licensee with the right of way (ROW) under the Telegraph Act, 1885, it is a rarity for a transmission project to be executed without any delays in land acquisition or getting the ROW.

The capex plan of Rs 8,304 crore will receive 80% funding from Power Finance Corp and Rural Electrification Corp, while 20% of the money will be provided by the state government. The plan has received the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission nod.

This plan follows the completion of InfraI, which stretched from FY09 to early-FY14 with a total contract cost of Rs 10,787 crore. The first plan was executed on an urgent basis to enable the transmission and distribution system to manage nearly 15,000 MW of power that was generated since 2012, a nearly 50% jump since the start of the plan in 2008.

We created strength, but also needed the capacity to distribute additional power to consumers, Mehta said. If we had not done that, the entire network would have collapsed as it would not have taken the load. So, the increase in generation got effectively delivered to the consumer. Thats what the first plan did in a big way.

At the end of the first plan, energy loss reduced to 14.6% in FY13 from 22% in FY08, while transformer failure, which was 14.3% in 2008, was down to 6.9% in FY13.

Till October 2013, the Infra1 plan achieved construction about 600 sub-stations and setting up of 43,875 high-tension lines and 11,876 low-tension cables, among others. The company also issued 8.87 lakh agricultural connections, which had a wait period of nearly an year.

During FY08 and FY09, forced or rotational load-shedding was carried out due to inadequate capacity of some stations. However, due to capacity in infra-works, there is no load shedding in 85% area of Maharashtra, said a document shared by MahaVitaran summarising the achievements of Phase I infra plan.

The MahaVitaran official said load shedding is implemented in high-loss or low-revenue area, only as a policy decision as the system is capable of sustaining that load as well.