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Efficiency is the watchword

Print edition : Feb 29, 2008 T+T-
Bharat Lal Meena, Managing Director of KPTCL and Chairman, ESCOMs.-PHOTOGRAPHS: BY SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Bharat Lal Meena, Managing Director of KPTCL and Chairman, ESCOMs.-PHOTOGRAPHS: BY SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Interview with Bharat Lal Meena, Managing Director, KPTCL.

Bharat Lal Meena,

Reducing losses, improving reliability, providing power of good quality and minimising outages are the avowed objectives of the Karnataka Power Transmission Corporation Limited (KPTCL).

At its helm is Managing Director Bharat Lal Meena with ample experience in successfully running the Bangalore Electricity Supply Company (BESCOM) behind him. Meena, who is also the Chairman of the five independent electricity supply (distribution) companies (ESCOMs) carved out of KPTCL, has chalked out a 61-point Chairmans Agenda, which acts as a guide to all of them.

The cardinal rules are: to set up knowledge-based systems to improve consumer relationships, to make KPTCL more transparent and financially viable through reforms and restructuring, to use technology to the hilt so as to deliver the advantages instantly to the consumer, and to achieve better levels of efficiency and productivity through training and motivation of personnel. Excerpts from an interview Meena gave Frontline:

Karnataka has plans to increase its generation capacity by 8,800 megawatts (MW) during the Eleventh Plan. How?

Demand for power can only be met by additional generation. Karnataka Power Corporation Limited [KPCL] is planning a number of projects such as those at Bellary and Raichur. Both KPCL and Power Company of Karnataka Limited are trying to get private investment in the power sector. We are trying to double the generation capacity from the present levels.

During the Eleventh Plan we are trying to generate over 5,000 MW from the 1,000 MW power plants at Chamlapur in Mysore district, Jewargi in Gulbarga and Ghataprabha in Belgaum, and from a 2,500 MW long-term project, for which we have already received 23 bids. The bidders can have their plants either inside or outside Karnataka.

How successful has been KPTCLs power-barter arrangement with Punjab?

Very successful. Our open-ended barter arrangement with Punjab is for 200 MW or five million units [MU] per day. While we have surplus power during rainy season, they have it during our summer months and when our demand is high.

Since we can spare more during the rainy season [between four to five months of the year], say up to 500 MW, or 5 MU per day, we are trying to go in for more barter arrangements. We are holding talks with Madhya Pradesh and Haryana for this.

What about losses from the system?

The investments that we have made in the system have reduced losses. Efficiency is the watchword. Bangalore citys 9 per cent loss is the lowest in the country. In the Mangalore Electricity Supply Company [MESCOM] the overall losses are about 15 per cent.

Losses in towns such as Hubli, Gulbarga and Mysore have also been drastically reduced. Besides energy audit, an intra-active [within the corporation] availability based tariff [ABT] has been introduced as a disciplinary mechanism. In other words, if you draw more power than you generate, you have to pay for it. As per bilateral agreements we are subject to ABT with other States.

Of the KPTCLs five ESCOMs only BESCOM appears to be doing well.

That is not true. Besides BESCOM, both MESCOM and the Chamundeshwari Electricity Supply Corporation are doing well. There is also a lot of improvement in the Hubli Electricity Supply Company [HESCOM] and the Gulbarga Electricity Supply Company [GESCOM]. Earlier, we were not investing money in some of these ESCOMs. Now that we are, there are bound to be improvements.

But the losses in these ESCOMs are still high.

Yes, but these losses will come down. We plan to bring down the losses in the distribution side to below 20 per cent from the current 29 per cent. BESCOM, MESCOM and a number of towns have already achieved this.

KPTCL appears to be constantly battling with the Karnataka Electricity Regulatory Commission (KERC)?

It is because our reasonable demands are not being allowed by the KERC. We are there to serve the consumers, but our financial health should be taken care of. If it is not, we cannot serve the consumers.

It seems the KERCs decision to reduce tariff has also not gone down too well.

The KERC has reduced tariffs without allowing what is due to us as the transmission company.

There have also been suggestions for a differential tariff system for different consumers of various ESCOMs.

A differential tariff system is not desirable at this stage. Since the State is one unit, we should not discriminate between consumers. Also, in the past we have made huge investments in BESCOM compared with [investments in] HESCOM and GESCOM.

Now, if you say that the benefits of that investment should stay only in BESCOM it is not right. Until you bring the system on a par everywhere, cross subsidisation will have to take place.

KPTCL has been unsuccessfully calling for the metering of irrigation pumpsets (IP).

Twenty-seven per cent of IPs have been metered. All IPs have to be metered so as to know how much power they are consuming. They also have to be made more efficient.