Engaging with India’s Electrification Agenda: Powering Chhattisgarh
September 20, 2019
- Chhattisgarh has raised the rate of electricity access from 84.5 percent in 2015 to almost 100 percent in 2019 through a combination of state and central government efforts.
- Although Chhattisgarh sought to reduce its technical and commercial losses from 2015, they have increased to 23 percent, up from 20.5 percent.
- The state is increasing its coal mining and coal-fired power capacity while developing smart city infrastructure and small-scale, distributed wind/solar hybrid systems.
- Once Chhattisgarh has finished connecting every household to power , its greatest need will be to build capacity to maintain distribution infrastructure to keep up with development.
- There are opportunities to provide appliances and demand response programs to help keep electricity consumption from spiking and maintain reliability as more consumers gain access to electricity.
Chhattisgarh is a mineral-rich state with abundant coal and iron ore resources and whose coal production gives it an energy surplus, but it is also one of India’s poorest states, with a poverty rate of 40 percent and low human development indicators. Long plagued by left-wing violence, with which it still struggles, Chhattisgarh’s government is trying to diversify the state’s economy by making it an attractive destination for non-extractive industries. Dense forests which house scattered communities coupled with the conflicts have made setting up infrastructure to support household electrification through a centralized grid a challenge for the state government. Absent such infrastructure, the state has been a ripe market for decentralized renewable electrification efforts.
Chhattisgarh has increased the amount of its population with electricity access from 84.5 percent in 2015 to 99.67 percent in 2019. An important measure of the health of the state’s electric power sector is aggregate technical and commercial losses (AT&C), which measure line losses from transmission and distribution equipment, power theft, billing and collection inefficiencies, and customers’ inability to pay. Chhattisgarh’s AT&C losses in 2015 were 20.5 percent. Under the state’s 24x7 Power for All plan formed with the central government, Chhattisgarh’s utility Chhattisgarh State Power Distribution Corporation Limited (CSPDCL) would target AT&C losses of 16 percent in 2019. Unfortunately, losses have grown—as of August 2019, they are at 23.28 percent.
Under the central government’s Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojana (UDAY) scheme, which aims to improve the financial health of the country’s utilities, Chhattisgarh has a target of 652,146 smart meters for customers with monthly consumption between 200-500 kilowatt-hours (kWh) by December 2019. As of August 2019, the state has not deployed any smart meters for these customers. The state also had a target to deploy 488,307 smart meters for customers with monthly consumption of over 500 kWh by December 2017 but has not deployed any smart meters for those customers either.
Figure 1: Electrification (% of population)
Figure 2: Aggregate Technical and Commercial Losses
Figure 4: Solar Deployment, January 2019
Chhattisgarh has a target to install 1,783 megawatts (MW) of solar power in the state to contribute to the central government’s target of 100 gigawatts (GW) by 2022. As of January 2019, data provided by the Chhattisgarh Renewable Energy Development Agency (CREDA) indicate it has installed 442.7 MW, about 25 percent of its goal.
Power Sector Reforms Undertaken
Over the past few years, Chhattisgarh has focused on expanding coal mining and coal-fired power (although they recently announced an end to new coal plants), developing smart city infrastructure, and exploring renewable energy deployment.
As the state with the third-highest coal reserves in India, coal mining and coal-fired power development have, until recently, continued apace in Chhattisgarh. In June 2018, the central government-run National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) began construction of an 800 MW ultra-supercritical coal plant in Chhattisgarh—India’s first plant to use the more efficient combustion technology. In July 2018, the Chhattisgarh State Power Generation Company received approval from state regulators to build the 1,000 MW Marwa Thermal Power Project that will supply power to Telangana. In March 2019, the central government’s Union Environment Ministry granted a Rajasthan-based subsidiary of Adani a permit for open-cast coal mining in Chhattisgarh’s Hasdeo Arand forests. In September 2019, the chairman of the state power distribution company announced no more new coal plants would be built in the state.
Smart city infrastructure integrates power sector management with the management of other resources that facilitate a more connected, potentially more efficient city. In June 2018, work was completed on a command and control center in Naya Raipur, a planned city that is expected to replace Raipur as the capital of Chhattisgarh. The command and control center centralizes the operations and monitoring of the water and power supply, sanitation, traffic movement, integrated building management, city connectivity, and internet infrastructure.
Chhattisgarh is exploring hybrid power stations that combine renewable energy technologies. In August 2018, the Chhattisgarh Renewable Energy Development Agency released a request for proposals to build five-kW distributed power projects combining wind turbines, solar panels, and batteries across the state. Given that over 50 percent of Chhattisgarh’s land is forested, it is logical to focus on distributed energy resources.
To follow the reforms and initiatives in Chhattisgarh’s power sector, please visit: https://indianstates.csis.org/states/chhattisgarh/.
Power Sector Initiative Spotlight: CREDA and State Health Department
The Chhattisgarh Renewable Energy Development Agency (CREDA) has worked for several years to mitigate the issue of unreliable power supply by helping to install distributed, off-grid solar solutions. As of March 2019, the agency has worked with farmers to install 60,000 solar irrigation pumps across the state, with rural villages to install 9,000 solar drinking water pumps, and with the health department to outfit 900 community health clinics with solar panels to power critical infrastructure such as delivery room fans, lights, and vaccine fridges. In recognition of their work with the Health Department solarizing community health clinics, CREDA was given the 2018 International Ashden Award for Sustainable Energy and Health.
In September 2017, Prime Minister Modi announced the Saubhagya Scheme, an ambitious effort to provide electricity to the 40 million households who still lacked access. After the Saubhagya Scheme, Chhattisgarh has connected almost 100 percent of its population to power. Once the state connects the final household, they must assure that every customer has access to reliable, uninterrupted power. The quality and continuity of power supply is a pressing issue that state officials are prioritizing. State officials have indicated a need to build capacity in maintaining transmission and distribution infrastructure to keep up with development. Given the willingness of the state government to deploy renewable energy to power basic services provision through non-energy-department-led programs, the state could also help grow its solar deployment by continuing to partner the energy department with the health, water and sanitation, and agriculture departments. This would localize energy generation and consumption, ensuring quality power delivery and helping the state meet its renewable energy and energy access priorities simultaneously.
Opportunities for Partnership
- A lack of capacity in operations and maintenance of grid infrastructure is a common issue among the states surveyed in this work. International partners could assist Chhattisgarh in building capacity to maintain infrastructure to avoid the wear and tear caused by the growing supply and demand on the grid.
- An additional way the state is interested in mitigating this issue is by limiting the rise in electricity consumption through efficient appliances. International partners in the business of low-cost, low-consuming appliances could help supply the consumer goods the population is demanding as they gain electricity access without putting a strain on the grid via a spike in consumption.
- The state is also interested in incentivizing lower consumption through demand response programs—another area in which international partners can help provide resources, knowledge, or products.
Stephen Naimoli is a research associate in the Energy and National Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, D.C. Dr. Kartikeya Singh is a senior fellow and deputy director of the Wadhwani Chair in U.S.-India Policy Studies and senior fellow of the Energy and National Security Program at CSIS.
For more information on how to engage with this process please contact the secretariat of the U.S.-India State and Urban Initiative (IndianStates@csis.org).
The Initiative was made possible with generous support from the Bureau of Energy Resources of the U.S. Department of State and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. This brief is part of the Saubhagya Partnership Project, an offshoot of the U.S.-India State and Urban Initiative, supported by the Good Energies Foundation.
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