POWER UTILITY | Staff Reporter, India

India's power losses up 62% to $3.4b as costs skyrocket

Average coal prices during the period grew 11.6%.

Losses by India’s power retailers are expected to rise steeply and reverse two years of narrowing loses brought about by the government’s plan to make the ailing utilities segment profitable, a report by Bloomberg revealed.

Combined losses by state distributors that signed up for the federal government’s reform plan in the first nine months of the fiscal year rose to about $3.4b (INR240b), a 62% YoY jump, amidst an increase in coal and power costs, according to Ajay Kumar Bhalla, India’s power secretary.

After states took over 75% of the debt of distribution utilities as part of an industry revival plan called UDAY, companies were able to enjoy a brief reprieve from their massive debt burdens although rising costs are once again impeding their debt servicing abilities.

State-run Coal India, the country’s biggest supplier of fuel used for power generation, said average coal prices during the nine month period rose 11.6% and power costs also increased as some generators had to import coal to bridge a domestic supply shortfall.

The power losses in large electricity consuming states -- including Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh -- also increased from levels seen five years ago, according to data from the ministry’s website tracking the progress of the plan. On an average, distributors continue to lose revenues on about a fifth of the electricity they provide.

Read the full report here.

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