Off-grid power producers fret as ‘Saubhagya’ clouds fortunes

Off-grid power producers in the country are in a fix as the Centre aims to increase penetration of power grid connectivity to un-electrified villages and households. The Modi government has launched the Saubhagya scheme with the aim of making electricity accessible to every household in the country by the end of 2018.

The USP of off-grid power producers was that they were providing electricity to villages where grid connectivity was not considered feasible earlier. However, with the Saubhagya targets, these power producers will have to augment their business models or will be rendered irrelevant, an industry watcher told BusinessLine.

According to a government statement, under the Saubhagya scheme, the government will provide for solar power packs of 200-300 Watt power with battery bank for un-electrified households located in remote and inaccessible areas. The pack will comprise five LED lights, a DC fan and a DC power plug. The government will also assure repair and maintenance for five years.

This is in addition to the massive rural electrification drive that the Centre is already undertaking with just 2,791 inhabited villages left un-electrified in the country. In terms of household electrification, the Centre is left to electrify just 4,09,72,169 houses by 2018, against a target of 13,87,71,838.

According to the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, distributed or decentralised renewable power projects are to be established in areas which are not likely to be electrified in the near future.

There are broadly two ways out for these projects. The first is that they supply the power they generate to the State government power distribution companies (discoms) under the Open Access guidelines. The second is to augment the power supply that comes through the grid and offer reliability to consumers.

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