Trends and Way Forward in the State Electricity Sectors: An Experience Sharing Workshop, 2020

Prayas (Energy Group) (PEG) organised the third edition of the two-day experience sharing workshop on 24th and 25th of September, 2020. Owing to the global Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdown enforced thereafter, the event was held virtually this year, on the Zoom meeting platform. The event was attended by around 59 participants working in the electricity sector, representing twelve states. This included participation from various stakeholders such as NGOs, grass-root organisations, policy think tanks, and consumer activists.

As has been the practice over the previous workshops, conducted in 2017 and 2018, the event this year was also envisaged as a platform to discuss commonalities and differences, and share experiences, challenges, and strategies used in various states to engage with the power sector. It was understood from the experience over the past workshops that participants preferred more focused discussions on crucial topics, experienced across states. Given this and the constraints of a virtual event, the current year’s workshop hosted in-depth discussions on the following topics.

  • Planning for a smooth transition of the distribution sector: The ever-increasing losses of distribution companies (DISCOM) will worsen with the increasing cost of supply, sales migration of cross-subsidising consumers, and increase in domestic and agricultural demand. In light of this, it is crucial to discuss experiences, aspects, and proposed solutions to ensure a transition that addresses the financial woes of the DISCOM, the impact on small consumers, and efficient functioning of the distribution sector. This session was held on Day 1 of the workshop.
  • Experiences of regulatory and policy engagement: Institutions such as the Regulatory Commissions, State Governments, Appellate Tribunal, the High courts, and the Supreme court face many operational challenges, especially with regard to their independence in decision making, capacity, and access to their services. Deliberations regarding the experiential challenges and successes of civil society organisations in engagements with such institutions is important to finetune the role of consumer participation and ensure transparency and accountability in their operations. This discussion was held on Day 2 of the workshop.

A brief summary of the rich and detailed discussions at the workshop are available in the workshop report.

This virtual engagement proved fruitful as a platform to disseminate information and facilitate discussion within the power sector civil society network across states. It was acknowledged that such state-level workshops were important and served to provide a broader perspective and shared understanding of power sector governance, and more such events should be organised in the future.

More details about the event, like agenda and presentations can be found here.