Plans to have 1 lakh solar-powered street lights

Finance Minister O. Paneerselvam on Thursday indicated in the Assembly that the restriction and control (R&C) measures in power supply would be totally lifted throughout the State by August 2012.

In his budget speech, the Minister said the government had decided to gradually relax the R&C measures, depending upon the improvement in the power position. The present installed capacity of the State was 10,237 megawatt (MW) with an average availability of 8,000 MW. But, the demand ranged from 10,500 to 11,500 MW, creating a shortage of 2,500 MW to 3,500 MW. Pointing out that the actual capacity addition in the last five years was only 206 MW, he said: “It is the top most priority of this Government to augment power supply. As a policy, Tamil Nadu will also encourage private sector and joint venture investments to augment power supply.”

Of the capacity addition projects of 3,800 MW to be taken up this year, he gave a break-up of the projects: 800 MW Udangudi expansion project (cost: Rs.4,800 crore) 1,600 MW Uppur thermal power project (Rs.9,600 crore) and 600 MW unit at Ennore (Rs.3,600 crore) and 800 MW Tuticorin stage IV (Rs.4,800 crore), totalling Rs.22,800 crore.

He referred to the “severe financial constraint” of the Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (TANGEDCO), a successor-entity of the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board (TNEB) which had over Rs.40,000 crore debt and Rs.38,000 crore accumulated losses.

Later, briefing reporters of the salient features, Principal Secretary (Finance) K. Shanmugam said the government had provided ways and means advance and share capital contribution to help the power utility as short term measures. It was contemplating debt swapping in the case of high-cost loans.

Renewable energy

In his budget speech, the Finance Minister referred to the government's measures to promote renewable energy, particularly solar energy.

A scheme had been envisaged to energise one lakh street lights with solar power in 1,000 villages at the rate of 20,000 lights per year at a cost of Rs. 248 crore which included Rs.56.40 crore as the Union government's subsidy and Rs.191.60 crore of State funds.

This year, the government would energise 20,000 street lights in 200 villages with solar power at an estimated cost of Rs.49.60 crore (Union government's subsidy: Rs.11.20 crore and the State's share: Rs.38.40 crore).