MonitorsPublished on Sep 30, 2020
Energy News Monitor | Volume XVII; Issue 12


Monthly Power News Commentary: August 2020


Power Bills

A PIL challenging the method adopted by BSES Yamuna and BSES Power Ltd for calculating the cumulative electricity consumption charges during the lockdown was disposed of by the Delhi High Court with directions that it shall be treated as a representation by appropriate authorities. The High Court noted that the DERC has not been made a party in the petition. The petition said that the method adopted by respondents has cast a burden on all the poor and middle-class residents of Delhi as the mere applying of the method has resulted in an automatic increase in their electricity bills by at least 5-15 percent for each month especially during the months of March and April, etc, per consumer depending upon their individual consumption. The petition further challenged the entire demand of the cumulative electricity consumption charges "raised by respondents" all at once for being contrary to Regulation 38 Sub-Regulation 8 of the DERC.

The Maharashtra government is still deliberating on the proposal to give a rebate on the inflated electricity bills that consumers had received during the lockdown months. The proposal is likely to be tabled in the state cabinet. The Maha Vikas Aghadi government is discussing the modalities for the final formula for giving rebates. Among the formulae under consideration are waiving the bill for those with up to 100 units consumption, and giving a rebate of 75 percent for those consuming up to 100 units, 50 percent for users of 101-300 units, and 25 percent for users of 300 units and above. Scores of electricity consumers have complained of hefty power bills from BEST, Adani Electricity, Tata Power and MSEDCL in June and July. According to the power firms all consumers were charged average and lower bills during lockdown months (April-May) and while taking the actual meter reading in June/July, the excess consumption during lockdown was noted. The government will provide relief to over 95 percent of the residential consumers in the state by announcing a rebate on electricity bills.

Amid a series of protests by opposition parties against the Goa Electricity Department over inflated power bills, the government announced a rebate of ₹183 mn for all consumers. Over the last two months, the Electricity Department has been flooded with complaints from consumers alleging inflated bills. The Congress, the AAP and Goa Forward have staged protests in the state urging the Goa government to examine the excessive power billing issue.

A large number of activists from the AAP staged a dharna protesting astronomical summer power bills. The main demands of the activists were waiving power bills up to 200 kWh/month, and cancelling the power tariff hike imposed by Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission from 1 April. Earnings of most people had reduced drastically due to the lockdown and they were in no position to pay such high bills. The Delhi government had waived power bills to give relief to common citizens.

Demand Revival

India’s electricity generation declined at a slower pace in July compared with June, provisional government data showed, driven by a recovery in consumption in populous northern and central states. July power generation fell 1.8 percent, an analysis of daily load despatch data from federal grid operator POSOCO showed, compared with a 9.9 percent decline in June. In the second half of July, electricity generation declined 3.1 percent, compared with a 0.6 percent slide during the first fifteen days of the month. The improvement in power demand in July was largely led by higher consumption by populous northern, eastern and central states such as Madhya Pradesh, UP, Bihar, Jharkhand and Rajasthan. Industrial western states such as Maharashtra and Gujarat, Delhi in the north, and the southern states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh witnessed significant declines in electricity use. These regions are among the most affected by the coronavirus.

India’s electricity generation in the first 15 days of August rose for the first time since early March, provisional government data showed, as the country opened up industries and lifted restrictions to control the spread of coronavirus. Power generation rose 2.6 percent in the first 15 days of August compared with the same period of last year, an analysis of daily load despatch data from federal grid operator POSOCO showed, compared with a 1.8 percent fall in July. In the second half of last month, electricity generation declined 3.1 percent. Power use has picked up from previous months when India was under a strict lockdown, mainly because of higher demand in the northern states and rising consumption in the highly industrialized western states of Gujarat and Maharashtra. Rajasthan, India’s largest state by area, saw a 15.7 percent growth in electricity use. Other states including Bihar, UP, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh also saw an uptick in power demand.

Fitch Ratings expects India’s electricity demand to drop by 4 percent during the financial year ending March 2021 given the expectations of only a gradual pick-up in economic activity since pandemic-related lockdowns were relaxed in June. The fall in demand is likely to result in lower load factors, mainly for coal-based power plants. The government’s recent ₹900 bn liquidity facility for discoms should help them pay the huge outstanding amount owed to generation and transmission companies. Generation companies can delay projects using force majeure clauses under power-purchase agreements because of the pandemic.

Draft Electricity Amendments Act 2020

According to the AIPEF millions of power sector engineers and employees held peaceful protests across the country against privatization of discoms and the Electricity Amendment Bill 2020. The AIPEF had given a call for holding a protest day on 18 August. The UP government has started the process of privatizing Purvanchal Vidyut Vitran Nigam and the Odisha government has started the privatization process of three discoms. Odisha’s Central Electricity Supply Utility was given to Tata Power and employees are already protesting. The provisions in the draft Amendment Bill to allow private franchisee or sub-licensee will only lead to cherry-picking of remunerative areas affecting the financial viability of discoms, AIPEF opined.

Regulation and Governance

The government is implementing a ₹12 bn project to hook up Nubra valley in the country’s northern tip, and Zanskar, among the least-explored regions of Kargil, with the national power grid, casting one of the first building blocks of the plan to make Ladakh carbon-neutral. The project envisages laying two 220 kV lines across some of the world’s highest mountains and inhospitable terrains. Ladakh remained isolated from the national grid till January 2019 when Central utility Power Grid switched on a 350 km transmission line linking Leh with Alusteng near Srinagar via Dras-Kargil. The foundation stone for the project was laid on 12 August 2014 and formally inaugurated it in January 2016. The project has improved power supply in the region, road connectivity to which remains cut off for 6-8 months during harsh winters when temperature dips to 50 degrees below freezing.

The energy department of Andhra Pradesh has managed to restore power in about 20,000 households in the flood-affected areas of East and West Godavari districts. According to APTransco power supply should be restored in the affected villages within 24 hours of recession of floodwater. The Andhra Pradesh Eastern Power Distribution Company Ltd has chalked out an action plan to restore power in all villages and submitted it to the secretary.

Bihar launched a series of power projects worth ₹48.55 bn in view of elections. Of the total amount, ₹31.3 bn was spent on replacing rickety and old electrical wires in different parts of the state. The state government’s programme to provide electricity connection to all households under the ‘Har Ghar Bijli Lagataar’ programme ended in October, 2018, two months prior to the deadline for completing the project. All rickety wires across the state were replaced by the end of December 2019. The Centre had earlier adopted Bihar government’s scheme for providing electricity connection to each household. Now it was going to adopt our scheme of prepaid meter to every consumer. There would be no curtailment in subsidy being provided to electricity consumers despite adverse economic situation due to Covid-19 pandemic in state. The state government is currently spending around ₹60 bn per annum on payment of subsidy to electricity consumers and would continue with that.

Punjab government made it clear that there was no question of withdrawing free power to farmers in the state and it will continue as long as he is leading the government. The report of Montek Singh Ahluwalia led experts group was only a preliminary one; the government will not consider any recommendation on withdrawal of free power by any expert. The expert group had recommended that farmers must be incentivise to diversify out of rice, since the water intensive crop was economically profitable for farmers even though the ecological damage was massive. Punjab was a power-surplus state, which was why his government had also fixed industrial power rate at ₹5/kWh in order to incentivise industry to invest in the state. In a major drive against electricity theft, PSPCL teams conducted mass raids and imposed a fine of ₹6.6 mn on people indulged in stealing electricity. The PSPCL informed that as many as 200 electricity connections out of a total of 3,010 connections checked were found to be stealing electricity. 14 electricity meters were also found to be suspicious and were seized for investigation to detect any kind of tampering. According to PSPCL as many as 47 team had checked 2,321 connections in Jalandhar and found 214 consumers under different lapses and a fine of ₹4.149 million was imposed upon them.

The power ministry has advised all power generating companies and transmission companies to charge late payment surcharge from distribution utilities at a rate not exceeding 12 percent per annum for all payments made under the liquidity infusion scheme under Atmanirbhar Bharat. The move is aimed at easing the financial burden on power distribution utilities. Covid-19 pandemic has adversely affected the liquidity position of all stakeholders of power sector especially electricity distribution companies. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved extending power sector liquidity infusion package to cover discom dues till 30 June and allowed a one-time relaxation in working capital lending limits by PFC and REC to electricity distribution companies.

DERC is likely to revise power tariff in the capital. However, there will be no public hearing before the revision due to Covid-19, though suggestions and objections from various stakeholders have been received between 20 March and 30 June. Last year, DERC announced the new power tariff in July and for the fifth consecutive year, there was no hike. For the lockdown period, various RWAs have demanded a waiver in the fixed charges levied on every bill based on the sanctioned load of a household. Due to the pandemic lockdown, the discoms have demanded over ₹20 bn more than last year’s aggregate revenue requirement, which is the revenue required to meet the cost of the licensed business for a financial year and has to be allowed by DERC to be recovered through tariff and charges.


NTPC Ltd has achieved 100 bn units of cumulative power generation mark during the ongoing fiscal. NTPC Group has a total installed capacity of 62.9 GW. According to the CEA data, 2600 MW NTPC Korba plant in Chattisgarh has emerged as the top performing thermal power plant with 97.42 percent plant load factor between April 2020 and July 2020. With a total installed capacity of 62.9 GW, NTPC Group has 70 power stations comprising 24 Coal, seven combined cycle gas/liquid fuel, one hydro, 13 renewables along with 25 subsidiary and joint venture power stations.

Supply Disruptions

The Government proposes to bring in regulations that will give rights to the consumer to seek 24x7 electricity supply in their homes and provide them compensation for any deviation from the stated goal. A consumer charter has been introduced in the new tariff policy that has been finalised by the power ministry that clearly mandates role and responsibility for power distribution companies and states the rights of consumers. The new tariff policy with added consumer charter has been placed for approval of the Cabinet by the ministry. Once approved, the subordinate legislation would be placed in Parliament before it becomes operational bringing under its ambit state discoms over performance of providing 24x7 power to consumers. The new charter would specify interruptions in power supplies due to load shedding. For every load shedding that is unscheduled or stretches beyond a cut off time, consumers would be compensated by the discoms. The compensation would be in the form of a credit that will be made into the consumers account with discoms so that this credit is used when paying the next electricity bill. Government is carrying forward two major reform in the power sector. One that will come through the tariff policy while the other through a new Electricity Act. The aim of both regulations is to create a competitive power market where suppliers, distributors and consumers gain.

A high level probe has been ordered by UP government into the sudden 'blackout' in millions of homes on the occasion of Janmashtami. Thousands of smart meters installed in several cities snapped supply to even those consumers who had cleared their bills. The Energy Efficiency Services Ltd, a government of India company, is responsible for the installation and maintenance of smart meters. When people were busy celebrating Janmashtami, power was snapped in millions of homes in several cities, including Lucknow, as the smart meters started displaying 'disconnection due to non-payment of monthly arrears'. Power was snapped despite the fact that households had cleared bills much in advance. Soon after the power was snapped, the UP Power Corp Ltd offices in various cities started receiving complaints from irate consumers.


The average spot power price in day ahead market dipped 27 percent to ₹2.47/kWh in July as compared to the year-ago period on the IEX. The day ahead market traded 4,487 mn units during the month. The attractive price continued to ensure significant savings to distribution companies and industries during this time. The electricity market at IEX witnessed a total trade of 5,334 mn units in July 2020. The volume traded in July 2020 registered an increase of 11 percent over the previous month and remained at par with the volume traded in the year-ago period, while the national electricity consumption and peak demand saw 3 percent decline. The distribution utilities from western, southern as well as a few northern states such as Maharashtra, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan, leveraged the exchange market to optimize their power portfolio and build on the financial liquidity which is so critical at this hour. Moreover, as electricity demand and consumption rise to the pre-Covid-19 levels driven by the increasing industrial and economic activity, availability of ample power at affordable prices will assist the economic revival and growth.

UP proposes to conduct unique online auctions among power plants under which companies which propose to offer higher rebates in dues will get faster repayment. The move has come as a surprise to the power industry as this will be the first time the power plants will make bids to get payments for power supplied to the state. The payments are being done through loans being provided by PFC and REC Ltd under the Centre’s ₹900 bn liquidity infusion package under Atma Nirbhar scheme. Under the scheme, the payments to power generators are made directly by PFC and REC but state distribution utilities guide the financial institutions. UP has been sanctioned a loan of ₹209.40 bn under the liquidity scheme, half of which will be disbursed now and half in the second trache when the state fulfills agreed conditions. The Union power ministry had issued a direction to PFC and REC asking them to disburse the sanctioned amount under a liquidity infusion package in a proportionate manner among state-run and private thermal and renewable plants.


Residents of south, west, east and central Delhi can now exchange their old air-conditioners with new energy-efficient, five-star rated ACs at a discount of up to 64 percent. Consumers can save over 1,000 units annually if they use energy-efficient air-conditioners. Power discoms BSES Rajdhani Power Ltd and BSES Yamuna Power Ltd have re-launched a limited period 'AC replacement schemes' in partnership with leading air conditioner manufacturers. Under the scheme, both window and split ACs of leading brands are on offer on a first-cum-first-serve basis. A domestic consumer will be eligible to buy a maximum of three ACs against a unique CA number.

Rest of the World

Europe & UK

Siemens BAM and Hitachi ABB Power Grids are among four companies selected to build a power link connecting Scotland’s Shetland Islands to the mainland. NKT Cable Group and BAM Nuttall are the other two firms selected by SSE subsidiary Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks Transmission. Some work is expected to begin in late August, with full construction due to begin in early 2021. The 600 MW link will connect Shetland to the British mainland for the first time and enable the connection of renewable energy to the power grid. SSE won approval to build the link from energy market regulator Ofgem.


South Africa has issued a request for proposals to procure 2,000 MW of emergency power, a step needed to help plug a severe energy shortage. South Africa’s power utility Eskom has been forced to cut power regularly, hobbling economic growth in Africa’s most industrialised country as unreliable coal-fired plants struggle to generate enough electricity to meet demand. Scheduled blackouts, known as load shedding, have resumed as South Africa has eased strict lockdown restrictions to contain the new coronavirus and has re-opened power-hungry industries, such as mining, in a bid to kick-start a weak economy. During load shedding, which is meant to protect the national power grid from complete collapse, residents and businesses are typically left without electricity for a couple of hours at a time. In December, South Africa issued a request for information to source between 2,000 and 3,000 MW of generation capacity to be connected in the shortest time, at the least cost.


According to US EIA, US electricity consumption will drop 3.4 percent in 2020 as coronavirus lockdowns caused businesses to close. EIA projected retail power sales will drop to 3,623 bn kWh in 2020 from 3,750 bn kWh in 2019 before rising to 3,655 bn kWh in 2021. That would be the biggest annual percentage decline since 2009 when sales fell 3.7 percent and compares with an all-time high of 3,859 bn kWh in 2018, according to data going back to 1949. If power consumption falls as expected in 2020, it would be the first time since 2012 that demand declines for two consecutive years. EIA projected power sales to commercial and industrial consumers will drop by 7.4 percent and 5.8 percent, respectively, in 2020 from 2019 as offices close and factories run at reduced capacity. Electricity sales to the residential sector will hold steady in 2019 and 2020 as mild weather reduces heating and air conditioning use even though government lockdowns are causing many people to stay home. While both residential and commercial sectors consumed record amounts of electricity in 2018 at 1,469 bn kWh and 1,382 bn kWh, respectively, the industrial sector set its all-time high of 1,064 bn kWh in 2000.

As if the pandemic and economic recession weren't bad enough, millions of Californians are facing recurring threats of abrupt blackouts during a heat wave in the nation’s most populous state. California’s Independent System Operator, a non-profit agency that manages the state’s power supply, ordered utilities to impose temporary blackouts for the first time in 19 years and did so again, pulling the plug on hundreds of thousands of customers for one to two hours. The blackouts seemed to catch government officials off guard, despite an ISO warning in January that the state could run low on power over the summer if several western states were to experience extreme heat at the same time - which indeed happened several days ago. The state’s highest recorded demand for electricity occurred in August 2006 when usage peaked at 50,270 MW. No blackouts were necessary. But at the time, natural-gas plants were still producing about 7,000 MW of electricity that is no longer available, according to the ISO. The recent shortages would have likely been even worse but for pandemic restrictions that closed many large offices. By some estimates, the pandemic so far has reduced overall electricity demand in California and other parts of the country by 8 percent to 10 percent.

Electricity provider Con Edison restored power to parts of New York’s Manhattan area after an outage left thousands without electricity and caused disruptions to the city’s subway system. The power outage had knocked out not only lights but also cellphone services. Con Edison’s website at one point showed the outage, which began just after 5 am local time, affected more than 40,000 customers. The power loss disrupted the signal system and station lighting on some subway lines and disruptions continued to impact some locations even after power was restored.


A massive power outage hit Sri Lanka, plunging the entire country into darkness and disrupting several services and businesses following a technical failure at a major power plant. The power supply to several areas in Colombo, the Southern Province and Kurunegala was restored after over six hours, while some areas are still affected. According to the Ceylon Electricity Board power disruption was due to a transmission failure at the Kerawalapitiya Grid Sub-Station. Sri Lanka has appointed a high-level committee to investigate the nationwide power outage. The power failure led to a shortage of water supply and severe traffic congestion in the capital as people began to store up on fuel and other supplies. Incident was the worst to be reported in recent years after a nationwide power failure hit the island in 2016.

Gaza’s lone power plant shut down, less than a week after Israel suspended fuel shipments to the Palestinian enclave over the launching of incendiary balloons that have caused brush fires in southern Israel. Gaza, run by Hamas Islamists, relies on Israel for most of its energy needs. Its population of 2 mn currently receives around six hours of electricity followed by a 10-hour power cut. Gaza homes and businesses rely on generators to make up for the lengthy power cuts, increasing the financial pressure on its largely impoverished people.

GE has signed two new agreements valued at over $1.2 bn with the Iraqi Ministry of Electricity, to undertake maintenance programs across key power plants in the country and bolster its transmission network. The US conglomerate was also working with multiple export credit agencies to facilitate financing of more than $1 bn for the projects.


Japanese utilities expect a slow recovery in electric power demand toward March after a 5 percent drop in the April-June quarter though some are less confident that the worst is over. Uncertainty over demand has deepened recently due to a resurgence in coronavirus cases in Japan, forcing most utilities to skip providing annual profit guidelines. Slack power demand may cause a surplus of fuels such as LNG. That threatens losses for Japanese utilities committed to large volumes of LNG under term contracts linked to oil prices as they resell it at spot prices which are much lower. For industry leader Tokyo Electric Power Company, household power demand in its region rose 5 percent thanks to lockdown demand, but industrial and commercial demand have plunged, with April-May figures plunging by 20-50 percent.

DERC: Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission, mn: million, bn: billion, BEST: Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport, MSEDCL: Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Ltd, AAP: Aam Aadmi Party, UP: Uttar Pradesh, kWh: kilowatt hour, discoms: distribution companies, AIPEF: All India Power Engineers Federation, kV: kilovolt, km: kilometre, PSPCL: Punjab State Power Corp Ltd, CEA: Central Electricity Authority, IEX: Indian Energy Exchange, PFC: Power Finance Corp, UK: United Kingdom, MW: megawatt, LNG: liquefied petroleum gas, US: United States,  EIA: Energy Information Administration


Government eliminates LPG subsidy as Covid turns oil market favourable

< style="color: #ffffff">QuIck Comment

< style="color: #ffffff">Eliminating LPG subsidy is a step in the right direction! < style="color: #ffffff">Good!

1 September. The government has completely eliminated the need to provide subsidy on domestic cooking gas or LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) as the global fall in oil prices and frequent rise in LPG cylinder price has brought the price of the common man’s fuel closer to market rates. As of September 1, the price of non-subsidised and subsidised 14.2 kilogram (kg) cooking gas is identical at ₹594 a cylinder. What this means is that government would no longer need to pay subsidy under the direct benefit transfer scheme (DBT) into the account of beneficiaries. In fact, with the price gap between the subsidised and non-subsidised cooking gas narrowing since early this fiscal, the government has not made a any cash transfers into the accounts of beneficiaries for the last four months. With the development, the government could easily make a saving of over ₹200 bn in FY21 towards LPG subsidy. This would be huge given the pressure on the government to step up expenditure for Covid-19 relief schemes. The government has allocated ₹409.15 bn as petroleum subsidy for FY21, a 6 percent increase from ₹385.69 bn allocated for the last fiscal. Out of this, the allocation for LPG subsidy has been increased to ₹372.56 bn for the current year. But so far in the first quarter period, the government had to draw just about ₹19 bn from the subsidy provisions. India has about 277.6 mn LPG consumers. Of these, around 15 mn are not eligible to get LPG subsidy since December 2016 because they have an annual taxable income above ₹10 lakh. The good news is that with the developments in the past few months, the government had completely eliminated oil subsidy and is spending the savings on other welfare activities. But this could mean that if there is any spike in LPG prices hereon, the government may pass on a portion of the burden to consumers by raising LPG prices.

Source: The Economic Times

Cairn’s Mangala oilfield in Rajasthan completes 11 years of production

29 August. Mangala oilfield in Thar desert of Rajasthan - the largest onland oil find in the last three decades - has completed 11 years of continuous production, its operator Cairn Oil & Gas said. The company’s gross proved, and probable reserves and resources base is 1.2 bn barrels of oil equivalent as on 31 March 2020. Cairn holds 70 percent in the Barmer block while Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) has a 30 percent stake. Vedanta Ltd said the economic and social impact of oil production from Rajasthan has indeed made the Mangala oil field the crown jewel for the state and for India.

Source: The Economic Times

LPG transporters of IOC in NE go on indefinite strike

28 August. An association of LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) transporters in the north east went on an indefinite strike against the latest tender floated by PSU giant Indian Oil Corp (IOC). The North East (NE) Packed LPG Transporter Association (NEPLTA), which transports cylinders from the bottling plants to the dealers, is protesting against among other things the floating of the tender from Kolkata instead of Guwahati, lowering of the existing rates and increasing the carrying capacity. Because of the strike loading and supplying of finished cylinders from the company’s 10 bottling plants have been affected and is likely to impact the stock at retail selling points of the distributors in coming days. IOC currently rolls out around 1.5 lakh cylinders every day for its customers across the North East. It has around 850 distributors in the region. NEPLTA operates around 1,400 trucks to transport LPG cylinders from IOC’s bottling plants to various distributors across Assam.

Source: The Economic Times

Petrol price up 9-10 paisa, reaches 88.48 per litre in Mumbai

27 August. Petrol price has maintained its rise with the fuel price increasing again after a brief one day pause while diesel holding on to its price line that it has maintained since 30 July. In the international market, crude price has also remained firm with benchmark Brent crude hovering close to $ 46 a barrel. State-owned oil marketing companies increased the price of petrol by 10 paisa per litre in Delhi while increasing it by nine paisa per litre in Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai. According to IndianOil website, petrol prices in Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai and Chennai increased to ₹81.83, ₹83.33, ₹88.48, ₹84.82 per litre respectively. However, diesel prices are holding steady in these metros at ₹73.56, ₹77.06, ₹80.11 and ₹78.86 per litre. Petrol prices have now risen in 10 of the last 12 days and in the national capital it is now expensive by ₹1.40 per litre during the period.

Source: The Economic Times

Indian state refiners halt oil imports from Chinese companies

27 August. Indian state refiners have stopped buying crude oil from China-linked companies, after New Delhi’s recent regulation aimed at restricting imports from countries that it shares a border with. Since the new order was issued, state refiners have been inserting a clause in their import tenders on new rules restricting dealings with companies from countries sharing a border with India, the tender documents show. Indian state refiners decided to stop sending crude import tenders to Chinese trading firm like CNOOC Ltd, Unipec and PetroChina, among others. State refiners, which control 60 percent of India’s 5 mn barrel per day (bpd) refining capacity, regularly tap spot markets for crude. India is the world’s third biggest oil consumer and importer and imports nearly 84 percent of its oil needs. China does not export crude to India but Chinese firms are major traders of the commodity globally. India has surplus refining capacity. Most refiners are operating their plants at below capacity as Covid-19-related restrictions have dented fuel demand.

Source: Reuters

8.9 lakh to benefit from LPG bottling plant to open soon in Madurai

27 August. Construction work on the LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) bottling plant of Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd (BPCL) at Kappalur on the outskirts of Madurai, has been completed and is to be commissioned soon. The work began in February 2019 on 22 acres at an outlay of ₹800 mn – excluding the land cost. It is the 5th bottling plant of BPCL in Tamil Nadu. The plant refilling 12,000 cylinders a day will be despatching 40 loads of cylinders to Madurai, Theni, Dindigul, Sivaganga and Ramanathapuram districts that have monthly demand for 4.5 lakh cylinders. Of the 55 lakh Bharat Gas customers in Tamil Nadu – 24.6 percent of the LPG market in the state – the Madurai plant will cater to the requirements of 8.9 lakh customers. The plant has been planned to meet the futuristic requirements of the region that is seeing a steady increase in LPG connections. During the lockdown, online payment for LPG refills has also increased manifold. While only 1.5 percent consumers opted for the online modes of paying for their refills prior to the lockdown it has now increased to 8 percent.

Source: The Economic Times

Domestic crude oil production decline 5 percent in July on output contraction

26 August. Domestic crude oil production declined 5 percent in July from a year earlier mainly on 16 percent output contraction from fields operated by private players. Natural gas output fell by a tenth. The total crude output in July was 2,634 thousand metric tonnes (tmt) with the biggest contribution of 1,739 tmt by Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) whose output barely changed in a year, as per official data. Oil India Ltd’s production declined 8 percent in July from a year earlier. Output from fields operated by the private sector fell to 644 tmt from 764 tmt a year earlier. These fields have produced 17 percent less crude during April-July from a year earlier mainly due to sharply shrinking output from Rajasthan’s Barmer block operated by the Vedanta group.

Source: The Economic Times 


Odisha’s Gopalpur port plans LNG terminal, petrochemical industries

31 August. The Gopalpur Port Ltd (GPL) in Odisha has planned to set up a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal and an investment of ₹20 bn for setting up fertilizer and petrochemical industries. While there are no restrictions on the loading of trucks from mines of the state for Vishakhapatnam and Gangavaram Ports in Andhra Pradesh, there is a restriction on loading for GPL. As a result, the exporters are facing a tough time and stiff competition and there will be a huge loss of foreign exchange earnings to the nation also.

Source: The Economic Times

India’s natural gas demand rebounds, reaches near pre-Covid level

26 August. Higher demand from fertilizer plants, refineries and power plants has helped natural gas demand recover to almost pre-Covid levels with consumption in July just 2 percent lower than last year. India consumed 5,333 million metric standard cubic meters (mmscm) of natural gas in July as against 5,433 mmscm in the same month last year, official data showed. This is a sharp recovery from June when the consumption of 4,925 mmscm was 9 percent lower than a year earlier. Increased demand by fertilizer makers, power plants and refineries has led the revival, offsetting poor show by city gas players, which mainly supply to local industries and gas-based city transport. Lower price for imported liquefied natural gas (LNG) also helped boost local demand. LNG import rose 6 percent to 2,963 mmscm in July from a year earlier. LNG made up 55.6 percent of the country's total gas demand in July. India has six LNG import terminals with a combined capacity of 42.5 million tonnes per annum (mtpa). During April-June this year, Shell Energy’s terminal at Hazira in Gujarat clocked the highest capacity utilisation of 87.8 percent while Indian Oil’s new terminal at Ennore operated at the lowest 8 percent utilisation.

Source: The Economic Times


Coal India aims to be commercially viable: Chairman

31 August. Coal India Ltd (CIL) Chairman Pramod Agrawal has said that the company envisions to be a commercially viable company. He said that the public sector unit’s vision is to ensure that there is no shortage of coal in the country and to make the country self-reliant in coal. On the future of coal-based energy, he was of the view that as coal is India’s irreplaceable prime energy source, notwithstanding the projections over renewables displacing coal, it will continue to dominate India’s electricity generation for few more decades. He said that CIL is committed to increase its production and supplies to the mandated required levels.

Source: The Economic Times

Karnataka government could face 300 mn penalty for missing coal goal

28 August. Karnataka Power Corp Ltd (KPCL) may face a penalty of at least ₹300 mn for failing to utilise coal stocks it had finalised with mining companies. The state’s three major thermal power stations — Raichur (RTPS), Ballari (BTPS) and Yermarus (YTPS) — are currently shut because of poor demand from industries, and coal stocks meant for electricity generation are being underutilised. In fact, the state has a “backlog” of coal rakes that can last for at least four months, according to KPCL. The energy department said KPCL had signed multiple contracts to secure coal supplies for the plants, agreeing to cart away and use a specific quantity of the rock. The rainy weather is conducive for storing coal as it doesn’t affect the quality.

Source: The Economic Times

State Bank of India plans coal-loan policy before key auctions

26 August. State Bank of India is creating a policy to lend to coal miners before landmark auctions that would end decades of state monopoly on the fuel. The planned policy suggests SBI is open to providing some of the financing required to put 41 coal mines with a combined annual production capacity of 225 million tonnes (mt) into private hands. Lenders are also wary about sustained demand for coal, which is seen globally as a dirty fuel but is still the biggest source for electricity generation in India. In Japan and Europe, several banks have announced plans to cut down lending to coal projects. India’s coal-fired power plants, the biggest users of the fuel, operated at an average 46.2 percent of their capacity during the three months ended June, compared with 63.2 percent a year earlier. MSTC Ltd will hold the final online auctions from 19 October to 9 November, allowing private companies to mine and sell coal for the first time in nearly five decades. The price at which the coal will be sold to potential buyers will also be important to appraise the viability of the loans.

Source: The Economic Times


India’s power output falls for sixth straight month in August

< style="color: #ffffff">QuIck Comment

< style="color: #ffffff">Falling Power Output indicates Slow Revival of Economy! < style="color: #ffffff">Bad!

1 September. India’s electricity generation fell for the sixth straight month in August, provisional government data showed, driven by a slump in power use in industrial western states such as Maharashtra and Gujarat in the second half of the month. August power generation fell 0.9 percent, an analysis of daily load despatch data from federal grid operator POSOCO showed, slower than the 1.8 percent decline seen in July. In the second half of August, electricity generation declined 4.5 percent, compared with a 2.6 percent increase during the first fifteen days of the month. Power use during the second half of August in states such as Maharashtra and Gujarat, among the country’s largest electricity consumers, declined by about 15 percent each, compared to near parity compared to August 2019 during the first 15 days of the month. Industries and offices account for half the country’s annual electricity consumption. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been citing electricity consumption data to suggest emergence of "greenshoots" in the Indian economy. Still, economists expect India to remain in a recessionary phase this year, with analysts expecting annual electricity demand to fall for the first time in almost four decades.

Source: The Economic Times

Rajasthan discoms liable to pay compensatory tariff to Adani Power: SC

1 September. In a relief for Adani Power Rajasthan Ltd (APRL), the Supreme Court (SC) upheld the orders passed by the Rajasthan Electricity Regulatory Commission (RERC) and the Appellate Tribunal for Electricity (APTEL), stating that APRL was entitled to compensatory tariff in connection with the power purchase agreements (PPAs) with the Rajasthan discoms (distribution companies). In March 2008, the Rajasthan government and Adani Enterprises Ltd (AEL) entered into an MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) to set up a coal-based thermal power generation project of 1,200 MW near Kawai in the state’s Baran district. In 2018, APRL’s claim was allowed and state discoms filed an appeal before APTEL, which held the bid was based on domestic coal and accordingly, covered under the change in law event in terms of the PPA. The state discoms had then appealed these orders in the apex court.

Source: The Economic Times

35 GW power surplus in Maharashtra, demand at 145 GW

29 August. Maharashtra has surplus power of 35 GW, as it signed several power purchase agreements recently, the energy ministry said. The present power requirement in the state is 14,500 MW, and during the peak period, it goes upto 20,000-22,000 MW. The state signed contracts with power suppliers to procure 35,000 MW, of which 28,000 MW are power purchase agreements and the rest are tie-ups to import electricity from other states.

Source: The Economic Times

MP CM suspends recovery on inflated power bills

29 August. Madhya Pradesh (MP) Chief minister (CM) Shivraj Singh Chouhan, in a major relief to low electricity consumers announced to suspend recovery of outstanding inflated bills. Chouhan said from September the consumers would be charged only for one month power consumption. Later, the state’s energy department ordered that power bills for the upcoming months of September and October, no old outstanding amount should be added. This benefit is extended only for the consumers whose connection is for up to 1 kilowatt (kW) consumption. The state government will examine the inflated electricity bills and will decide further course of action, he said. During the last five months of Covid-19 pandemic, people have complained of receiving inflated electricity bills, which the power company issued based on average meter consumption. According to power discom (distribution company) officials, they had received over 12,000 complaints of inflated power bills between April and May while the count was still on. Energy Secretary Akash Tripathi issued orders to all the three discoms in the state to suspend recovery on inflated bills. The discoms have been directed to ensure that no outstanding, arrear or surcharge (penalty imposed for delay in payment) of previous months should be added to the bills of the consumers (upto 1 kilowatt connection) in their bills of September and October. If the consumer’s bills for month of September are outstanding in the month of October, then this amount should be charged in the bill of October along with surcharge.

Source: The Economic Times

No power tariff hike in Delhi for 2020-21: DERC

29 August. The Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) announced it will not hike power tariffs in the city for 2020-21 in view of the coronavirus pandemic. The power regulator also waived 20 percent surcharge under time of day (ToD) tariff for September to facilitate non-domestic, industrial, public utilities and domestic consumers due to the prevailing Covid-19 situation, the DERC said. To promote pollution-free transportation and clean environment, the Commission has decided to continue with subsidised tariff rates for e-rickshaw and e-vehicle category, it said.

Source: The Economic Times

Telangana Genco CMD assures more safety measures at power plants

27 August. Telangana Transco and Genco Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) D Prabhakar Rao has assured to the employees that more safety measures would be taken for the protection and security of electricity employees to avert untoward incidents like the fire accident that took place at the Srisailam Power Plant. He called upon the electricity employees not to entertain any insecure feelings and that they should work with more commitment to live up to the faith and confidence people in Telangana state reposed in them. The power utilities would take all measures to provide protection and safety of all the employees. The CMD visited the families of the deceased and consoled them.

Source: The Economic Times 


Bihar farmers to produce solar energy too: Deputy CM

1 September. Deputy Chief Minister (CM) and senior BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi said the farmers of Bihar would not only grow crops in their fields but also generate solar energy in the future. Addressing the executive committee meeting of the farmers’ cell of the state BJP, SuMo said the government was working on a plan to co-relate agriculture produce with solar energy to improve the economic condition of the farmers. He said the government would promote the use of solar energy generated pumps for agriculture purposes. SuMO revealed that 1.4 lakh farmers have already been given power connections for agriculture purposes in the state.

Source: The Economic Times       

Railways completes solar power installations at 960 stations

1 September. In a bid to achieve the objective of 100 percent self-sustainability for all power needs, the Indian Railways has completed the task of installing solar power plants at 960 stations and ordered solar power panels for 550 more stations. The Railway Ministry said the national transporter had solarised more than 960 stations till now, adding orders have been placed for an additional 198 MW solar rooftop capacity for 550 stations which were under execution. The Railways plans to generate 33 bn units by 2030, 10 bn more than its current requirement. It also plans to install solar plants of 20 GW capacity by utilising its vacant land by 2030.

Source: The Economic Times

Kutch hybrid energy park expected to generate 41.5 GW

1 September. The state government has paved the way for setting up of the ambitious solar and wind parks project in Kutch district by expediting the process of land acquisition for the hybrid energy park. The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) had been regularly seeking updates on the project of national importance for the past two years. The government said 60,000 hectares of land will be allocated for the project in one go. The solar and wind parks project in Kutch is expected to generate 41,500 MW power. The PMO has given the deadline of 2022 for completion of the project, which has been running more than two years behind schedule.

Source: The Economic Times

Power Minister proposes RPO for round the clock renewable energy

29 August. Power Minister R K Singh has proposed renewable purchase obligation (RPO) mechanism for round the clock (RTC) renewable energy, which will promote storage of electricity in the country. Under RPO, bulk purchasers like discoms, open access consumers and capacitive users are required to buy a certain proportion of renewable energy or RECs (renewable energy certificates) in lieu of clean energy. Once the RPO is mandatory for RTC renewable energy, it would encourage investments in renewable electricity storage projects.

Source: The Economic Times

Government should postpone basic customs duty on solar by 18 months: Industry association

29 August. A solar industry association said that the government should postpone the imposition of basic customs duty (BCD) by 18 months to avoid financial burden on already bid out projects of 50 GW capacity. Solar power developers association (SPDA), an independent body, said that the government must reconsider its decision of imposing BCD on cells and modules, as it would damage the sector’s prospects at this stage. It said that the government instead of making duty applicable to 100 percent of imports, should tax only incremental imports. And should also issue more manufacturing-linked tenders to give a boost to domestic production.

Source: The Economic Times

India can be 'global superpower' in fighting climate change: Guterres

< style="color: #ffffff">QuIck Comment

< style="color: #ffffff">Eliminating Coal for Power will mean Premature Deindustrialisation! < style="color: #ffffff">Ugly!

28 August. India can lead the world’s transformation to clean energy and become a "global superpower" in the war on climate change, UN (United Nations) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said. The main focus of his message to India was to stop developing electricity generation plants using fossil fuel, especially coal, and switch to clean renewable sources in order to fight global warming and pollution and simultaneously reap economic benefits. He praised New Delhi’s initiatives to help bring solar energy around the world. The world is facing the twin crises of Covid-19 and climate change with the danger that more people are being pushed back into poverty, Guterres said. The solution to both the problems as the world recovers from the pandemic is to channel investments to renewable energy, clean transport and energy efficiency, he said. He welcomed the Indian government’s decision to raise its target of renewable energy capacity from the initial 2015 goal of 175 GW to 500 GW by 2030. He made the economic argument for investing in renewable energy comparing its falling cost compared to fossil fuel-fired plants.

Source: The Economic Times

India’s solar tariffs to decline by up to 10 percent over next decade: Report

28 August. Solar power tariffs in India would continue to see 5 percent to 10 percent annual declines over the coming decade as a result of the technological development of solar and large factories that drive economies of scale, according to a recent study by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) and JMK Research & Analytics. It said that this in turn would result in stronger competitiveness against incumbent fossil fuel alternatives in the country. Regarding solar tariffs in other countries, the report said that nations in the Gulf region have set record-low prices for solar in recent years, however, it was unlikely that this would happen with India as the economic makeup of each country plays a direct role in determining tariffs. It said that if India imposed import duties on solar modules, the required Indian solar tariff would widen further. In fact, solar tariffs in India are almost double the tariffs in the Gulf region.

Source: The Economic Times

Plan to use surplus land of railways to generate 20 GW of renewable energy: Goyal

27 August. Indian Railways plans to use its surplus land to generate 20 GW of renewable energy from 'Made in India' solar or wind equipment to power its network, Commerce, Industry and Railways Minister Piyush Goyal said. He said Indian Railways will be a 100 percent electricity-driven rail network in coming years which would make it the largest such network in the world.

Source: The Economic Times


Mexican crude oil output slips to record low in July

1 September. Mexico’s oil output hit a record low in July at 1.605 mn barrels per day (bpd), down slightly for both state-run Pemex and upstart private producers and putting the country’s oil patch on track for its lowest production since the 1970s. Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex), produced just 1.548 mn bpd in July while private oil companies pumped about 57,000 bpd during the month, both figures down slightly from June, data from oil regulator CNH showed. Pemex’s July output marks the lowest amount of crude extracted since November 1979, when the then-monopoly producer pumped 1.615 mn bpd, according to energy ministry data. Its production has steadily declined each year since reaching a peak of 3.4 mn bpd in 2004, and was most recently hit by an oil price rout earlier this year, budget cuts, as well as a two-month negotiated output cut with other major oil producing countries. The ailing Mexican oil giant saw its monopoly end with a landmark 2013-2014 energy reform that for the first time allowed private producers to operate oil fields on their own. Since the beginning of this year, Mexico’s crude oil production has dipped nearly 7 percent, according to the CNH data. In July, Pemex produced about 96 percent of national output, according to the CNH, while the private operators, such as Italy’s Eni and Canada’s Renaissance Oil Corp, contribute around 4 percent. President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has pledged to revive Pemex and grow its crude production, but he has shown no interest in allowing foreign and private oil companies to grow their footprint, canceling competitive oil auctions that would have been open to them.

Source: Reuters

Nigeria’s Lekoil seeks $100 mn for Ogo oilfield drilling

28 August. Nigerian energy company Lekoil Ltd needs to raise around $100 mn before it can start drilling in its Ogo oilfield, its Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Lekan Akinyanmi said. He said the company was able to finance much of the Ogo preparation work with cash from its producing field, Otakikpo, and will drill once it raises the money. He expects to spend $1 bn developing Ogo through its life cycle. Lekoil is also targeting a 40 percent reduction in annual general and administrative expenses due to this year’s oil price crash.

Source: Reuters

Iraq cuts oil exports in August, pumps below OPEC+ target

27 August. Iraq’s crude oil exports have fallen so far in August, according to shipping data and industry sources, suggesting OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries)’s second-largest producer is delivering more of its pledge to cut supply under an OPEC-led deal. Southern Iraqi exports up to 25 August have dropped to 2.63 mn barrels per day (bpd), according to the average of figures from Petro-Logistics, which tracks tanker shipments, and Refinitiv Eikon data. The OPEC and allies, known as OPEC+, unwound part of a record supply cut from 1 August as demand starts to recover from the coronavirus crisis.

Source: Reuters


Brazil lower house approves reform of natural gas sector

1 September. Brazil’s lower house approved the basic text of a bill to further open up the natural gas market to private competition and break the monopoly held by oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA (Petrobras). The new legal framework changes natural gas distribution from a regime of concessions by the government to one of authorizations by the country’s oil and gas regulator ANP, thus reducing bureaucracy for building pipelines. The bill, which still needs to pass the Senate, would also open up competition by changing the vertical structure of the gas sector so producers cannot be distributors and vice-versa. Mines and Energy Minister Bento Albuquerque expects the law to unlock 40 bn reais ($7.41 bn) in private investment for the gas sector, while Economy Minister Paulo Guedes said it will bring a “shock of cheap energy” for Brazilian industries.

Source: Reuters

Asia LNG price hovers above $4 per mmBtu as hurricane disrupts US exports

28 August. Asian spot liquefied natural gas (LNG) prices hovered above $4 per million metric British thermal units (mmBtu) as cargo loadings from the United States (US) were delayed due to a powerful hurricane. The average LNG price for October delivery into northeast Asia LNG-AS was estimated at about $4.05 per mmBtu, down five cents from the previous week. Loadings of LNG cargoes from the US have been delayed following Hurricane Laura, which made landfall near the Texas-Louisiana border and is one of the most powerful storms to ever hit the region. US LNG exports were on track to fall to 2.1 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd), their lowest since February 2019, according to data from Refinitiv.

Source: Reuters


Indonesia’s September coal price at record low, miners say oversupply worsens

1 September. Indonesia has set the coal benchmark price at the lowest level on record amid subdued demand from big buyers, while the country’s miners group said a global oversupply of coal was worsening. The government set its coal benchmark price (HBA) COAL-HBA-ID at $49.42 per tonne, the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry said, down from $50.34 per tonne last month. September marked a sixth consecutive month of decline in the benchmark price, which is used in spot trading in Indonesia, the world’s top thermal coal exporter. Indonesia is increasingly looking to diversify markets for its coal and is targeting Vietnam as potential growth market. Indonesia Coal Miners Association (ICMA) estimated that Indonesia’s coal output in January-July was 323 million tonnes (mt), or around 59 percent of the government’s 550 mt target. ICMA said in July their members would cut their 2020 production by 15-20 percent of their targets, amid low prices.

Source: Reuters


New Norway-Germany power cable to face constraints until 2026

1 September. Norway will have access to just a fraction of the 1.4 GW export capacity of a subsea power cable connecting it with Germany once it starts operating in early 2021, with limitations to last until 2026, Norwegian grid operator Statnett said. The minimum guaranteed capacity for the Nord Link interconnector, which is costing €1.5 bn and €2 bn ($1.8 bn-$2.4 bn) to build, will stand at just 11.7 percent for 2021, the first year of commercial operation.

Source: The Economic Times

South Africa sees worst power cuts on record in 2020, research shows

28 August. South Africa has endured its worst power cuts on record this year, research by the country’s national science council showed. The power cuts by ailing state utility Eskom are one of the biggest challenges facing President Cyril Ramaphosa as he tries to revive investor confidence in Africa’s most industrialised economy. Analysis by South Africa’s Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) found that 1,498 gigawatt hour (GWh) of energy had been shed so far in the first eight months of 2020, more than 1,352 GWh in the whole of last year and 1,325 GWh in 2015, the previous two worst years on record. The CSIR estimates planned power cuts, known locally as load-shedding, cost the economy up to 120 bn rand ($7.2 bn) last year. Eskom generates more than 90 percent of South Africa’s power but has struggled to meet demand for years because of faults at its coal-fired power stations. Some of these stations have not been properly maintained and two new ones have been hobbled by design flaws. Eskom last implemented planned power cuts. The CSIR predicts load-shedding will continue for two to three years, depending on the actions the government takes to address the electricity shortfall.

Source: Reuters


Total and Macquarie to develop South Korea wind projects

1 September. French energy group Total and Macquarie’s Green Investment Group have concluded a partnership to develop five large floating offshore wind projects in South Korea, the firms said. Oil companies like Total have been ramping up investment in renewable projects in a bid to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and increase their exposure to low-carbon investments. The wind projects have a potential joint capacity of around 2.3 GW, and Total and Macquarie aim to launch construction of the first project of around 500 MW by the end of 2023. Total currently has around 5 GW of renewable power capacity and is aiming for 25 GW by 2025. South Korea wants to build more renewable power plants and reduce its reliance on coal as part of efforts to reach net zero emissions by 2050.

Source: Reuters

Indonesia aims to finish research on 40 percent palm based biodiesel in November

26 August. Indonesia, the world’s largest palm oil exporter, plans to finish research into biodiesel containing 40 percent palm oil by November, the head of the energy ministry’s research department said. The country will implement the mandatory use of biodiesel containing 40 per ent palm oil, known as B40, in July 2021 as it seeks to increase domestic palm oil use while slashing regular diesel imports. The country previously scheduled a road test in April for B40, but that was delayed because of the coronavirus outbreak. Indonesia currently mandates biodiesel containing 30 percent of palm oil’s fatty acid methyl ester, the highest palm-based mix for biodiesel in the world.

Source: The Economic Times

Portugal’s solar energy auction breaks record for low power prices, again

26 August. Portugal’s latest auction of contracts to build and operate new solar energy capacity set a world record for the lowest price of future output, the Environment Minister Joao Pedro Matos Fernandes said. One of the winning bids was for output costing as little as €11.14 per megawatt hour (MWh). That compares with a then-record minimum price per Mwh of €14.6 in Portugal’s first mega auction of 1,150 MW of solar energy capacity in June last year. Based on the locations where solar plants will be installed, auctions were held where the winners would be those offering the highest discounts to the bidding tariff of around €41 MWh. Of the 35 entities initially competing in the latest 700 MW auction, there were six winners, with South Korean solar panel manufacturer Hanwha Q Cells grabbing a total of 315 MW, Matos Fernandes said. The Minister said 670 MW of the 700 MW were allocated, covering a total of 13 allotments mostly in the country’s sunny southern region. Both licensing auctions of new solar energy capacity are set to help Portugal - among Europe’s sunniest countries - reach its ambition of having 7,000 MW of renewable energy by 2030.

Source: Reuters


Source: PPAC, Quarterly Prices
Note: Data point 1 on x axis: Price on 16 April 2016
Data point 51 on x axis: Price on 1 July 2020

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