State Electricity Minister Arcot N. Veeraswami on Tuesday requested the Centre to establish a national power grid by extending the grids of northern, eastern, western and north-eastern regions, inter-connected since August 2006, to southern States on priority basis.
He said the southern grid continued to function separately and, as a result, the southern States were unable to enjoy the benefit of surplus power available in the rest of the grid. He was delivering a special address at the eighth conference of the Southern Electricity Regulators’ Forum (SERF) here, attended by top officials of the electricity regulatory commissions of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Karnataka.
He said the demand for power was huge in southern region in view of high industrialisation. The Minister also pointed out that the over-drawal charges levied on southern States were high compared to the charges levied on other States.
Stating that the projected demand for Tamil Nadu by the end of 2011-12 was almost 14,000 MW, Mr. Veeraswami sought the cooperation of neighbouring States in times of power shortage.
Delivering the key note address, Chairman of Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) Pramod Deo made it clear that the unbundling of State Electricity Boards was not a precursor to privatisation.
S. Kabilan, Chairman of the Tamil Nadu Electricity Regulatory Commission (TNERC), said that the meeting deliberated issues such as formation of a southern electricity regulatory market, development of a common database for southern States and a common approach to regulations for renewable sources of energy.
K.P. Pandey, Chairman of the Karnataka Electricity Regulatory Commission (KERC) and the SERF, said political support was vital for carrying out reforms. Power sector reforms were initiated in 1990 with the objective of giving the consumer a choice to source his supply. However, it might take many years to achieve this goal.
“Power sector should be free from all political considerations... A Chief Ministers’ conference chaired by Prime Minister long time back had decided to do away with free power and it is being reiterated by Prime Minister every time at such meetings.” However, free power continued resulting in huge subsidy bills for State governments, he said.