The massive breakdown of electricity supply to nearly 20 States, constituting almost half of the country’s population, has once again thrown the focus on the health of the state electricity boards (SEBs) and transmission utilities with experts maintaining that financial mess and indiscipline was one of the major reasons for such incidents.

The power outage has underscored the urgent need for putting in place a financial package to recast the Rs.1.90 lakh-crore debt of the SEBs and other power utilities as well as the need to effect tariff hikes, something that the Power Ministry has been asking the state utilities to undertake to get over the losses.

“The Northern Regional Load Despatch Centre (NRLDC) is like a policeman. It has to enforce discipline, and the States are expected to follow that. However, due to the continued financial indiscipline in SEBs and other power utilities, the States are forced to overdraw power from the grid, leading to collapse,’’ Associated Power Producers (APP) Director-General Ashok Khurana said.

He said due to the financial mismanagement of the SEBs, they were unable to honour the long-term bilateral power purchase agreement which led to non-planning of power requirements. “Unlike the U.S. where there are regional grids, the case is different in India as our coal comes from the Eastern region and major power stations are based out of there. The national grid is a major requirement for our country. But the need of the hour is reforms, including putting an end to the financial mismanagement of the SEBs,’’ he said.

IEEE-SA (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Standards Associa- tion), the leading global standards setting body, said it was time India implemented the Smart Grid concept that could reduce burden on consumers. It blamed the inefficiency of transmission and distribution in transferring the loss to the customer. The situation could only be saved with the implementation of smart grid which would also bring a solution to grid failures. “There is a need to reduce these losses through efficient management, and best operation and maintenance practice, which can be effectively done just by implementing smart grid,’’ it added.