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Rockefeller Foundation pledges $75 mn for Smart Power India project

According to reports, US-based philanthropic organization Rockefeller Foundation on Wednesday pledged $75 million as part of its new initiative to use renewable energy based mini-grids not just to light up 1,000 villages in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, but also create new jobs by providing electricity for commercial purposes.

Renewable energy-based distributed power systems or off-grid solutions have been a rage among renewable energy companies, government agencies and even some not-for-profit organisations and many such systems have come up across the country over the last five years.

But the Smart Power Project claims to be different. “Our model is different from other similar initiatives undertaken in India so far because we are focused on two key areas of providing reliable power as well as engaging with communities to enable their economic development,” says CEO Jaideep Mukherji,

Smart Power India, an entity incubated by the Rockefeller Foundation

Smart Power model uses mini-grid technology for both lighting and productive use. So far companies working on the off-grid model have been focussing on domestic lighting needs—leaving out a whole segment of the rural entrepreneurs and wannabe entrepreneurs.

Smart Power India will partner with energy service companies (ESCOs), telecom tower operators, investors, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and government agencies to cover 1,000 villages in the next three years.

The mini-grids will provide market opportunities to investors and will be able to integrate into the national grid system which the government is extending, said Zia Khan, vice president, initiatives and strategy, Rockefeller Foundation.

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