IPP, PEOPLE | Karen Mesina, India

Tata Power-DDL's CEO is dead serious in pulling power theft losses down

AT&C losses dropped from 53% to 9% since the acquisition in 2002.

CEO Praveer Sinha vows to never lose sight of keeping AT&C losses down while taking Delhi power to new heights with Smart Model Villages.

Delhi is among India’s most notorious areas when it comes to aggregate technical and commercial losses (AT&C). AT&C losses, a combination of power loss during transmission and through theft, shot up to 60% in outer Delhi areas just last month. Tata Power-DDL is at the forefront of combating the trend of skyrocketing AT&C losses, all while successfully meeting the record peak power demand of 1764 MW without any network constraint and power outage as Delhi touched an all-time high of 6188 MW in May this year.

Asian Power caught up with Tata Power-DDL CEO Praveer Sinha, a professionally trained Electrical Engineer and holds Masters of Business Law from National Law School, Bangalore. He has nearly 32 years’ experience in developing and setting up of greenfield power projects in India and abroad and has been at the helm of running successfully a public utility service in India’s National Capital City of New Delhi. Four years after joining the company, he has taken the firm to several milestones.

What were the previous positions you held that led you to being the CEO now? How did these experiences help you be the leader that you are?

In the previous assignment at Tata Power Company Ltd., I was the Executive Vice President & Project Director and was looking after developing and implementing many Power Generation Projects in India and abroad. I was spearheading Tata Power’s growth plans by developing new Greenfield and Brownfield power plants coming up in various parts of India like the states of Jharkhand, Orissa apart from Hydro Projects in Nepal, Bhutan and India. At Tata Power, I had the opportunity to commission four plants totaling 1400 MW. I was also involved in the project development and implementation of nearly 8000 MW Greenfield Power projects.

This enriched experience has helped me to develop an expertise in handling issues relating to land acquisition, project engineering, contract finalization, project execution activities and rehabilitation facilities.

What are the biggest challenges TPDDL is currently facing and what motivates you in making sure these challenges are being overcome?

Non Cost Reflective Tariff, Higher Power Purchase Cost and Liquidation of Regulatory Overhang have long been a serious bottleneck, impacting overall power sector of the country. However, Tata Power-DDL due to its operational efficiencies, reduction in losses and financial prudence has been able to partially overcome these challenges in recent years.

Some of the key challenges that the company initially faced since the acquisition in 2002 includes dealing with rampant theft of electricity in slums as well as industrial/commercial consumers, improving the sub-standard and dilapidated distribution network system using state of the art technology and processes, reducing AT&C losses from 53 per cent during the takeover to less than 9% now, improving system reliability so as to be comparable with the best utilities in India and abroad.

Changing the consumer perception and tackling the nexus between people with vested interests and power thieves who were responsible for theft were also among many challenges that needed immediate attention.

Further, in current context, I think the biggest challenge is in sustaining what our company has already achieved. We have reduced the AT&C losses by 53% to 8.88% and now reducing even by few percentage points each year will be an uphill task. But with our new Initiatives of Smart Metering and Technical Loss reductions, we are confident that we will continue our journey of further loss reduction.

What is TPDDL’s biggest plan to date? What should the industry be excited about?

With agreement on the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the accord reached at COP 21 in Paris, the world today has an updated paradigm in which clean energy is a subset of climate change. We need both speed and scale for technology for the war on climate change.

Tata Power-DDL is preparing itself through collaborations with Technology Partners & Research Institutes in Innovations in areas like Renewable Energy Generation, Micro-Grid, Home Automation, automated Demand Response, Smart Meters & Smart Grid, E-Vehicle Charging etc. towards this challenge.

One major focus area is innovation for Solar Micro-Grid which is very pertinent for access to electricity in India as well as in most other Asian countries.

There are three dimensions of this initiative: 1) Improved Storage - Tata Power-DDL is exploring different Battery Technology and Inverter Technology in 100 KWp Solar Test Bed with improved battery performance and longevity (vs. conventional lead-acid): high ambient temperatures, deep discharge, and extended partial charge; 2) Integrated “utility-in-a-box” - Integrated Energy Management System leading to “Smart Micro-Grid” to be tested in Bihar state Micro-Grids in collaboration with MIT and GE, and; 3) Affordable energy-efficient appliances - Tata Power-DDL is exploring opportunities for financing and other business-model innovations of Energy Efficient
Appliance. A new family of affordable, energy-efficient appliances (e.g., refrigerator, fan, TV, etc.).

Tata Power-DDL is partnering with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, GE and Tata Trust for developing two rural micro-grids in Bihar which I believe will play significant role on the future of expanding electricity access in India. I hope through implementation of this project we will develop a model in the country which will be affordable, sustainable with universal applicability. 

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