NTPC-Power Grid JV likely to be distribution sector operator

NTPC-Power Grid JV likely to be distribution sector operator

The Centre’s latest plan to form a national electricity distribution company is likely to be a distribution sector operator (DSO), with overarching responsibilities of sectoral reforms and technical expertise. Officials said the company would be involved in the consultancy business and not exactly intervene in the business of state-owned power distribution companies (discoms).

Last week, India’s two leading public sector utilities — NTPC and Power Grid Corporation of India — formed a joint venture to set up a National Electricity Distribution Company. Senior executives said a committee had been set up that is designing the road map for the company. “It would also need approvals from the NITI Aayog and the Department of Investment and Public Assets Management,” said an executive.

A statement by the spokesperson of the Ministry of Power last week said: "An agreement has been entered between Power Grid and NTPC on June 21 for the formation of a JV company on a 50:50 equity basis for setting up National Electricity Distribution Company (NEDCL). The main objective of the JVC is to undertake the business for distribution of electricity in distribution circles in various states and union territories of India and other related activities."

Senior government officials dismissed the notion that the new company would function like an alternative discom. Electricity in India is in the concurrent list, wherein power distribution is a state subject. Barring few areas in some states, Delhi, and Mumbai, discoms are owned by the state governments but are financially beleaguered. Losses of state-owned discoms grew over 40 per cent to Rs 21,658 crore at the end of FY19.

“There is not one agency that can be the guiding force for reforms that discoms need to take... Operational efficiency can be improved with technological intervention. These companies are adept at doing it,” said an official.