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South India has become power surplus: Goyal

Chennai, Jul 15, 2016 (PTI) 19:59 IST
Solar energy capacity, which was 2,400 MW in 2014, has now crossed 7,000 MW. PTI File Photo.
Centre plans to enhance the power transmission capacity in the country by almost three times by 2020, Union Minister Piyush Goyal said today, adding that South India has achieved power surplus status due to various initiatives.

"We have brought solar revolution in a big way to India. In the last two years, there was highest ever renewable energy capacity expansion in wind and solar. In fact, solar energy capacity, which was 2,400 MW in 2014, has now crossed 7,000 MW," the Coal, Power and Renewable Energy Minister told reporters here.

Stating that gas-based power plants which were lying idle for lack of fuel have now started operations, he said most of these plants are in South India.

The minister said as much as 71 per cent of transmission capacity from the Northern and Eastern grids have been connected to South India.

"All these steps put together have led to South India becoming power surplus. They have the ability to provide power 24/7 throughout South India," he said.

"With all the thrust we are giving to renewable power, we are focusing to further increase the transmission capacity to make it nearly three times more than what it is today, by 2020," he added.

Referring to the purchase of power between states, he said, "Two years ago when a state like Tamil Nadu had to buy power, it was around Rs 8, Rs 10, Rs 12 or even Rs 14 a unit, particularly in summer months."

"I am delighted to share with you now that on most days, power is available at the same price in North India as in South India...," he said without elaborating.

"In earlier days, South India had to buy power at five times the cost of Northern India. Now, we have almost got it on par," he said.

On his scheduled meeting with Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa later in the day, he said it would be a courtesy call.

Pointing out that power transmission capacity in India would touch 18,000 MW by 2020 against 3,450 MW in 2014, Goyal said "it is almost a five time increase in six years".

"In fact, the Deendayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana and Integrated Power Development Scheme will help bring thousands of crore of rupees worth of distribution infrastructure so that we can give power to five crore families," he said.

Referring to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa's recent letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying that the state is in a position to sell surplus wind power and urging the Centre to allocate dedicated transmission capacity, Goyal said, "Expanding the green corridors is certainly a mission of this government".

"The Central government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has cleared more than Rs 40,000 crore worth of green corridors. I think Tamil Nadu also benefitted from the green corridor that we have approved," he said.

On the Uday Scheme, which Tamil Nadu is yet to join, Goyal said, "They are free to accept it or reject it. It is a voluntary scheme. But I place before the government that it will help people of Tamil Nadu to save about Rs 22,000 crore over the next three years".

"It will further result in saving of over Rs 7,000 crore every year after 2019," he said.
To a query on cost of renewable energy remaining high, he said government was able to bring down the cost of solar power between Rs 4.50 to Rs 5 per unit due to honest and transparent auctions.

"Two or three days ago, some new tenders were opened in Rajasthan for solar power, where the price discovered per unit of electricity was only Rs 4.35 per unit. So gone are the days where renewable energy was unviable," he said.

To a query on a report alleging human rights violations at mines run by Coal India, Goyal said the ministry has already issued a rejoinder in this matter.

"Our rejoinder has come out. And to all those issues, I think it is a completely baseless report. I think it is prompted by certain elements who cannot see the development and prosperity of India and the need for India's poor to get affordable power," he said.

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