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Piyush Goyal checks Gujarat model for power reforms and renewable energy growth

According to reports, power minister Piyush Goyal on Friday met Gujarat energy minister Saurabhbhai Patel to “understand the underlying principles” of state’s reforms in electricity and renewable energy sector.

After taking over as minister of state (independent charge) for power, coal and renewable energy, Goyal had made known his intention to get a first-hand knowledge of the “Gujarat model” of power reforms. The Jyoti Gram Yojana, implemented under Narendra Modi’s chief ministership, was the centre of Goyal’s focus. The scheme ensures 24×7 power supply in the state. Calls and text messages from TOI for details did not elicit any response.

For the second year in row, the four state-run distribution companies in Gujarat emerged as top performers in the power ministry’s ranking announced in March. In fact, power supply feature prominently in Modi’s electioneering theme of development.

Modi would sarcastically ask his audience in public rallies, especially in UP, whether they were getting regular supply and follow it up by saying that farmers in his state had access to electricity 24×7.

Modi turned Gujarat into a powerhouse by restoring the financial health of the state utility, implementing the idea of separate feeders for farm and domestic sectors as well as metering all consumers to reduce transmission loss – an euphemism for theft.

Goyal’s meeting quickly drew on social media a parallel with Madhya Pradesh, another BJP-ruled state that has turned into a net exporter of power under chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s stewardship. The state is estimated to earn big revenue from power sale.

Tariff reforms, which include metering, remain the core of ending blackouts. This is one area which Goyal may not find the going smooth since power is a concurrent subject – where state governments have to come on board for any initiative to go through. Since most state governments are averse to raising tariff initiative face the threat of getting bogged down in Centre-state politics. Without general tariff reforms, it would be difficult to revive the idling gas-fired power plants, aggregating some 24,500 mw worth Rs 124,000 crore investments, since no one would buy costly electricity produced from imported fuel.

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