If one needs to understand power situation in Andhra Pradesh, K Vijayanand is the man to approach. Vijayanand is an IAS officer who is the chairman of APTRANSCO and managing director of APGENCO. At the helm of these two mammoths, he practically looks after all the aspects of the power sector in the state. In this conversation, he explains to Team INCLUSION why Andhra Pradesh is doing well and where others can catch up.
Q: Your first observations on the power situation in Andhra?
A: As on today, we are in surplus, but the surplus is a relative word. If you are in surplus today, it won’t mean that you will be in surplus one or two years from now. Power sector is such a dynamic sector that you have to plan ten spaces ahead. We are planning for all spaces conventional spaces and renewables. Managing this sector and managing the grid requires one to be very specific in achieving these objectives. We have given an official ad in Andhra newspapers asking people if anyone is left from electrification, they can reach out and ask for a connection.
I think Delhi, Gujarat, and Andhra are the states which claim 100 per cent electrification. Maybe there are small colonies which are in the process of developing, there as and when the request comes we give the connection.
If you look at renewables, we are a state that has done a lot on renewables. I was looking at the grid the other day and found that 30-35 per cent of supply was on renewables. APGENCO is also doing renewables. We are there in thermal, hydro and we have a small 200 MW gas-based station. I have developed another 400 MW solar photovoltaic power generating unit.
Q: Renewables is a big thrust in your government. There are major projects which are coming up. What’s happening in those areas?
A: We are developing two 800 MWs with APGENCO and we are developing 1,000 MW hydro station. It’s a multipurpose project and power is also included with irrigation. By next year this time, we will also be producing 1,600 MW thermal power thanks to new stations.
Solar is one thing where APGENCO as a company is moving ahead. We have already done 400 MW and we have plans moving ahead. We are also actively looking into solar, wind hybrid stations. Before this financial year, we will also come out with some sort of plan for future renewables particularly hybrid kind of models.
Q: What are the new projects that you are taking up in the area of modernisation?
A: We have done some pilots of Artificial Intelligence. One agency is developing auto-grid. We are using IoT devices to monitor the health of the transformer thereby preventing problems and repairs when the transformers fail. Prevention reduces downtime and improves customer satisfaction. So it will be helpful. Smart metering is also on.
The pilot we have successfully completed. We have already placed orders for 5 lakh meters with SECI.
We are one of the states which are seriously doing brushless motors which save power in irrigation for farmers. In the same horsepower, if you use brushless motors, you can pump 40 per cent more water.
We are taking steps to make power into smart power. We are looking at concepts and introduced such as time of the day tariff and providing incentives to introduce the third shift. We have been doing these for one year at least.
Q: What are the major challenges that you are concerned about?
Any sector will have financial issues. The power sector is the same. I can’t brush this under the carpet. Dues from the government will be one issue. The state government is good but even then also there are issues. Normally, if you are a consumer, if you don’t pay the next minute my lineman will come and cut your power but the same can’t be done to the government. So that’s how the dues pile up. That is one general issue.
Second is the political decision of increasing tariff which no government would like to take up. The government will always tell the power sector to reduce losses and bring down the costs but this sector is dependent on different sectors like coal and transportation where costs are rising. Proportionately, the power price has to increase but the government says they will give subsidy. The commitment from the government goes up but nobody knows about the repayment schedule. But luckily we could prevail on the government and the government has agreed to support us by some R10,000 crore.
These are all short-term issues. Then I can also say Andhra power sector we have not lost a single day because of employee unrest. As a sector, we didn’t lose even a man hour because of industrial unrest. We are 100 per cent peaceful when it comes to unrest in the power sector. Financial problems will always be there.