With a fifth of rural Uttar Pradesh still to gain electricity access, Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), an environmental research and advocacy organisation, has suggested developing a robust network of mini-grid systems to feed power to hinterland.
According to CSE report titled ‘Mini-grids in Uttar Pradesh – Policy Lessons’, a fifth of rural UP continues to live without power access despite massive growth in electricity infrastructure in recent years.
Currently, 14.2 million rural households in UP live without power connections and despite government claims, power supply remained limited to 10-16 hours.
Since, power crunch is likely to persist, there is a case for mini-grid development in the state over the next 5-10 years, the report said. These mini-grids would be fed by small renewable energy units, mostly solar or biomass based and go hand-in-hand with subsidies for generation and distribution asset development.
CSE also held a round-table meeting to discuss the role of mini-grid electricity generators in addressing the energy challenge in rural UP. It was attended by the representatives of UP New and Renewable Energy Development Agency (UPNEDA), UP Electricity Regulatory Commission (UPERC), distribution companies (discoms), experts, mini-grid developers and investors.
The UP government’s attempt to regulate tariffs and improve the supply of mini-grids through its mini-grid policy (introduced in February 2016) had utterly failed in its objectives owing to short sighted provisions, the report claimed.