Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Siddharth Sareen delivers a paper on 'Politics, procurement, bail-out and buy-in: Woes and ways for Rajasthan’s distribution sector'

What are the recent consequential developments and current issues in Rajasthan’s electricity distribution sector, which the state government has just bailed out of debt exceeding ten billion dollars? If political interference got it there despite sectoral unbundling in 2001, what measures are being instituted to safeguard against a repeat? As Rajasthan’s distribution companies turn to technology adoption, efficiency enhancement and loss reduction measures, this study offers an in-depth analysis of the sector’s stakeholders, capturing contrasting perspectives. Based on 30 expert interviews besides secondary research, it pries open the political economy of distribution in Rajasthan, spanning concerns of various consumer categories and providing insights into the roles played by a number of institutions, from the regulatory commission to the renewable energy nodal agency. The article bookmarks stakeholders’ expectations with regard to current developments on tariffs, renewable energy growth targets and compliance, the advent of competition and a franchisee model introducing private players in distribution, and demand-side efficiencies. It contributes an understanding of the current issues and concerns that characterise this sector at the state level. Prime among these are the continuation of an organisational culture that led to heavy indebtedness despite recurrent attempts to bolster efficiency, continuing political influence rather than the autonomous functioning of discoms, and an adverse configuration of incentives to ensure an adequate growth map for renewable energy despite high expectations from the state.

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