IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - July/August 2014 - 38

eight units per month, which is
just one-third of the reported consumption of 24 units per month in
urban areas. this is because of the
poor quality of rural electricity
supplies and reflects significant
unmet demand.
As alluded to in the discussion above, efforts to enhance
access to electricity or energy in
general have faced formidable
difficulties that have yet to be
overcome. Most of the programs,
especially the smaller-scale ones
prior to rggVY, met with very
limited success owing to the lack
of an integrated approach to the
issue of access to energy. there
are several reasons for this, but
prima facie, the lack of flexibility
and the absence of an integrated
approach to energy access are the
figure 2. Rural electrification in India through the RGGVY (source: RGGVY).
two main contributing factors.
the rural electricity Supply technology Mission, Although rggVY has performed better, it also has some
launched in 2002, had the aim of electrifying 10 million serious deficiencies. in fact, the indian Planning commishouseholds by 2012 using decentralized distribution sys- sion, in framing its 12th Five-Year Plan (2012-2017), pointed
tems. the remote Village electrification Program (2003) out a number of these, including the following:
1) For all practical purposes, access to electricity in
was launched by the Mnre to electrify remote villages
rural areas continues to be limited because rggVY
and remote hamlets of electrified villages using renewable
and other schemes are more concerned with the numenergy technologies. the goal of this scheme was to electrify
ber of villages electrified than the real needs of the
all remote villages by 2007 and all households by 2012. in
people living in them. rggVY has focused entirely
2005, with the launch of the rggVY, all grid-related rural
on residential supply and does not address the need
electrification programs were consolidated so as to provide
to provide electricity for small industries and agricul"electricity for all" by 2010.
ture, which need a three-phase supply. this, in turn,
the rggVY scheme has helped to achieve a household
requires strengthening of the rural network and not
electrification level of 75% nationally as of 31 March 2012
just the last-mile connectivity to households, which is
(see Figure 2). According to official estimates, there were
all the scheme covers.
about 13,000 villages nationally that did not have access to
2) the electricity access programs are also somewhat
electricity in March 2012. there are conflicting estimates,
blind to the financial constraints faced by the executhowever, including one provided by the central electricity
ing agencies. the poor financial health of these utiliAuthority, the national electricity planner, that suggests that
ties and the high cost of power act as disincentives for
more than 32,000 villages, or 5.4% of all villages, were still
states to provide new connections.
without electricity at the end of 2013. As these widely differ3) there is no viable business model for extending
ing estimates reflect, there is generally poor governance of
electricity access. Some of the poorer states do not
the electrification schemes and the updating of records. the
even have the basic infrastructure to support rural
other issue that one has to keep in mind is that electricity
electrification. the supply voltage at the transmisaccess is not just about building the network infrastructure;
sion substation is often poor, and some of the states
equally important is ensuring a reliable power supply and
face as much as a 30% peak deficit; these issues need
good maintenance of the infrastructure. rural areas usually
to be addressed before the distribution network is
suffer on account of the poor and underdeveloped state of
expanded further. on the customer side, the narrow
transmission and distribution infrastructure and sometimes
focus on residential supply, mainly for lighting, has
even lack adequate distribution capacity to supply electricity.
not opened up any substantial business and employWhen indian villages do have access to electricity, their level
ment opportunities and therefore has not improved
of consumption is abysmally low. the average per capita
customers' ability to pay for electricity.
consumption of electricity for rural customers is only around
38

ieee power & energy magazine

july/august 2014



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