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Call to overhaul planning process in power sector

According to reports, the report on a study carried out by civil society and advocacy groups has suggested an overhaul of the planning process for the power sector in Tamil Nadu. The study, which was carried out over a period of two years, has suggested that the State government put in place a mechanism to effectively judge the power demand in the State.

The study was part of a research project on the State’s power sector by the Consumer Action Group, Madras School of Economics and New Ventures India. It was led by the World Research Institute with support from the Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation.

The study evaluated the policy making and planning processes of the TN government, and found that the exercise was being carried out in the absence of robust data on the actual demand for electricity in the State. The findings of the research project were presented publically as part of a workshop on ‘Holistic and Inclusive Electricity Planning in TN – A Roadmap Towards an Integrated Approach’, held at the MS Swaminathan Research Foundation in Chennai on Wednesday.

“We do not have a clear picture of what the real demand is. Unmetered usage is a large part of the sector. Agricultural demand is also unclear,” said R Hema of the Madras School of Economics. “A lot of gaps in understanding have led to a climate of uncertainty in demand estimation,” she added.

Other experts said the methodology presently used by the government to estimate electricity demand was shrouded in opacity, and expressed doubts over the veracity of the estimates.

“It isn’t about choosing one mode of generation over the other. The ideal way forward is to have all modes of generation contributing to the energy mix,” said Vineeth Vijayaraghavan, founder-editor of Panchabuta, a website focusing on new and renewable energy news and analysis. “Effort needs to be made to make various new modes of energy generation part of the base load.”

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