India’s Looming Power Surplus Signals Slow Electrification Pace

(Bloomberg) — India expects to have a surplus of power for the first time in at least 13 years, a sign that the country’s goal of full electrification may be lagging.

The country’s power plants are forecast to produce 8.8 percent more electricity than its distributors will demand during the year to March, the Central Electricity Authority said in an annual generation report last week. That would be the only surplus in records going back to the year ended March 2006.

The narrowing deficit in recent years, and the projection for a surplus this year, have been aided by slowing demand growth from state distribution companies, known as discoms, who struggle to purchase enough electricity for the populations they serve. The CEA defines demand as the amount of power that distributors buy, not necessarily how much electricity would be needed for the whole country. That helps explain why an estimated 45 million rural households lack electricity and several cities face regular blackouts.

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