From being power deficit with 6,201 MW production till 2007 to becoming power surplus with installed capacity of nearly 13,500 MW against the power consumption of 11,500 MW (peak load), Punjab has indeed scripted remarkable growth story in power generation. Amid all the criticism of doling out power subsidy, Punjab’s multi-pronged approach towards enhancing power generation cannot be undermined.
In the process of transforming from an agrarian economy to a more industry-based state, the need for sufficient and sustained power supply is of immense importance. Realising this, the Punjab government has taken major steps to ensure adequate power to industrial and domestic users.
In 2007 when SAD-BJP government took the reins of state, it faced an uphill task of reviving the power structure in the state. Facing huge deficit the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) was making losses. Soon after, PSEB was reconstructed and divided into Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) and Punjab State Transmission Corporation Limited (PSTCL), thus transforming it into a profit making concern. With a capital investment of Rs. 30,000 crore, Punjab government added 5,603MW units of power.
Aiming to boost industrialisation in the state, Punjab is providing electricity to new industry at cheapest rates in the country. All new industry in the state are supplied power at a flat rate of Rs 4.99 per unit. This comes as a huge respite for industrial sector considering most states are supplying power ranging from Rs 7 to Rs 10 per unit.
Punjab is also the only state in the country providing free power to its farmers and doles about Rs 4,700 crore every year in lieu of this subsidy to PSPCL. Agriculture pumpsets users are getting eight hours of uninterrupted power supply. Apart from that the state has also been credited with meeting the required power demand of farmers during paddy season without imposing any regulatory measures on other category of consumers
Power cuts have become a thing of past and domestic users in Punjab are now getting 24 hours power supply. Punjab has tied up with states such as Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal and Rajasthan for power banking to export power to these states. The state is also exploring opportunities to sell power to private sectors and the teams are already on the job in cities down south.
Some of these success points might have appeared unimaginable at one point of time. By focusing on ways of increasing production along with enhancing technical system to improve power quality and its supply, Punjab was able to register huge growth in power generation. The commissioning of thermal plants at Talwandi Sabo, Rajpura and Goindwal Sahib besides, harnessing solar power to a large extent has helped the Punjab state in becoming power surplus.
PSPCL has been closely watching fiscal management in the state. The corporation has managed to curb much wasteful expenditure. Focusing on increasing efficiency and proper utilization of manpower, PSPCL was able to transform the loss of Rs.1600 crores in 2010 into profit of Rs.295 crores in 2013.
Punjab has made massive investment of Rs 4500 crores towards transmission and distribution system Distribution system is also sufficiently augmented to cater to the requirements of all sections of consumers.
State has also focused on production of solar power making it a huge phenomenon. The government is also giving a major push to Rooftop Solar Photovoltaic Power Projects. Over 100,000 square meters of area is available on government buildings for the purpose.
Ministry of Power, Govt. of India, in its 3rd Annual Integrated Rating Exercise awarded the top rating A+ to PSPCL, grading it with a very high operational and financial capability. PSPCL has been assigned the best rating based upon net profit reported in the last two years, comfortable capital structure post restructuring, improving revenue level and successfully un-bundling and corporatisation of the erstwhile PSEB besides other factors.
In last few years PSPCL has also done a lot of work for improving consumer services. Multiple bill payment options available such as online payment, payment through mobile applications, retail outlets, spot billing & collection, bill payment machines, etc.
Punjab has also facilitated online clearances and release of connections, which are running successfully to the satisfaction of consumers. Further, a centralized online consumer complaint/grievance handling system has been put in place to attend consumers’ grievances. Apart from that various consumer services are also being offered through web portal of PSPCL.
Punjab has unarguably done well in terms of power generation and transmission. Now, the benefits of state’s surplus power capacity are already reaching people. Punjab can also hope power surplus scenario to work as a game-changer in its bid to boost industry.