Energy Distribution Trajectories in Two Western Indian States: Comparative Politics and Sectoral Dynamics

Siddharth Sareen (Erfurt University) will give a talk on electricity distribution companies (discoms) and potential energy transition in Rajasthan and Gujarat, India.

This talk unpacks the institutional bottlenecks and path dependency holding back energy transition in two desert states with a sixth of India’s land, despite potentially high scope for solar growth and a systemic move towards a sustainable profile. What are the recent consequential developments, current issues and likely future trajectory of Rajasthan’s electricity distribution companies (discoms), which the state government has just bailed out of debt exceeding ten billion dollars, versus Gujarat’s whose discoms have A-plus credit ratings? If political interference and indebtedness held Rajasthan back from taking renewables forward until 2011 despite sectoral unbundling in 2001, what measures are being and can be instituted to maintain its impressive solar growth since then? What has fuelled Gujarat’s contrasting story: its aggressive early push for solar, and recent slowdown in adding renewables?

As discoms in Rajasthan seek to emulate Gujarat and turn to technology adoption, efficiency enhancement and loss reduction measures, this study offers an in-depth analysis of the sector’s stakeholders, capturing contrasting perspectives and reflecting on implications for energy scenarios in both states. Based on 56 expert interviews, it pries open the political economy of distribution within energy transition in Western India, spanning concerns of various consumer categories and providing insights into the roles played by a number of institutions, from the regulatory commission to the renewable energy nodal agency. The talk bookmarks stakeholders’ expectations with regard to current developments on tariffs, renewable energy growth targets and compliance, the advent of competition and a franchisee model introducing private players in distribution, and demand-side efficiencies. It contributes a comparative understanding of the current issues, concerns and ideologies that characterise this transforming sector at the state level in India.

Siddharth Sareen is a postdoc at the Max Weber Center for Advanced Cultural and Social Studies, Erfurt University.


Published Feb. 2, 2017 10:48 PM - Last modified Feb. 6, 2017 2:53 PM