`Power T&D loss in India among the highest'

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Anil Sasi

New Delhi, Dec. 2

THE country's power sector, infamous for its distribution sector inefficiencies, shares the top slot in the company of countries such as Nigeria and Nicaragua when it comes to overall transmission and distribution (T&D) loss levels.

Countries such as China, Pakistan and even African nations such as Cameroon have more respectable T&D losses as compared to India's average loss levels of about 33 per cent.

In comparison, Pakistan's T&D losses are about 26 per cent, while the loss levels in China are close to those in the developed world at a creditable 7 per cent. While T&D losses in Russia are around 12 per cent, loss levels in much of the Western countries including the UK and the US are around 6-8 per cent. Japan and Germany set benchmarks in power transmission and distribution efficiency with overall loss levels of just 4 per cent.

In broad terms, the power sector is expected to achieve break-even at T&D loss levels of around 20 per cent or so.

While T&D losses of anything below 20 per cent means the power utilities in the country would start making operational profits, any higher loss levels would push the country's power sector into the red.

According to the Central Electricity Authority data, though the country's T&D losses have come down marginally by a percentage point from 33.54 per cent in 2002-03 to 32.53 per cent in 2003-04, the losses levels are nowhere close to the country plugging the leak in the power sector.

While the Government has tried to stem the loss levels through efforts at metering of 11 kV feeders and consumer meter, energy accounting and auditing, the Centre's key reform project the Accelerated Power Development and Reforms Programme (APDRP) has been perceived to be losing steam. Taking advantage of the incentives available under APDRP for reducing T&D losses, distribution utilities in some States such as Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan have shown reduction in cash losses over the last three financial years.

However, most others, including traditional laggards such as Bihar, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh, have been unable to stem their T&D losses.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated December 3, 2005)
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