This unprecedented crisis will have a massive impact on most economies. Countries will need to re-prioritize public expenditure towards humanitarian aid, social & health sectors, and to cater to those immediately affected by the Coronavirus. The challenge for an economy like India is to still – and somehow – manage to keep investment levels in infrastructure up.
In the power sector, and focusing on distribution and access to electricity, the Government of India and states provided Rs. 3 lakh crore in the last 3-4 years. More investments are needed to install 25 crore smart meters to raise billing efficiency from 83% to 100%, solarise and make off-grid agriculture consumption with 300 GW solar capacity at decentralized levels to reduce the growing subsidy burden that stands at Rs. 70,000 crores and integrating energy efficiency in resource planning.
The annual financial benefits to DISCOMs through these interventions are huge: new revenues through smart meters can go up to Rs.50,000 crore; off-grid solar fed agricultural feeders can save subsidies of Rs.70,000 crore, and actually implementing a 2010 regulation on energy efficiency through “demand-side” measures can enable close to 15% energy savings estimated at Rs.75,000 crore. The three put together can make almost Rs.1.95 lakh crore to DISCOMs.