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Centre to grade power boards

Calcutta, Sept. 2: The two major distributors of power in the state — the State Electricity Board (SEB) and the CESC — are gearing up to improve performance levels following the Centre’s decision to grade them.

According to a Central directive, the performance of the power utilities would be rated every month in all major towns, district headquarters and Calcutta to keep a check on their reliability factor.

“An index that conveys the reliability of power supply, taking into consideration the number of interruptions occurring in the system among other factors, will be used as a benchmark for assessing the performance,” said H.L. Bajaj, chairman of the Central Electricity Authority.

In a letter to the distributing agencies, Bajaj said facts like how many hours in a day the consumers are getting power, how many hours the consumers have gone without electricity, breakdowns and other interruptions in the distribution network will be taken into account.

An index — plant load factor — is already in use to gauge the performance of the generating stations. But, for the first time, an index is being set to measure the performance of the distribution agencies.

The reliability index is part of the Centre’s efforts to reform the country’s power distribution system, primarily with the objective of establishing the sector’s financial viability. Annually, an estimated Rs 27,000 crore is lost on account of power theft in the country.

“The calculation of the reliability factor calls for increasing our efficiency levels manifold. There is an imperative need to change our mind sets to keep pace with these developments,” state electricity board chairman G.D. Gautama told The Telegraph.

Industry sources said with the setting up of electricity regulatory commissions at the state and Central levels, the transparency and accountability of the power utilities have assumed greater importance.

“Earlier, power tariff was fixed by the state governments. Now, the regulatory commissions fix the tariff after hearing out consumers’ bodies apart from the power utilities. The consumer gets a chance to express views. Consumer satisfaction is one of the key points that we have to be keep in mind,” an electricity board official said.

To ensure uninterrupted power supply, the financial health of the agency is very important, the official added.

Both the CESC and the electricity board have launched drives to stop power theft to bolster their bottomlines.

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