Often the biggest bottlenecks to providing access to reliable, affordable electricity are not supply or technology constraints. Rather the problem lies with institutionally and economically inefficient electricity distribution. Almost half of power drawn from the grid is not paid for and is unmetered, unbilled or pilfered. In the state of Bihar, 42% of power consumed falls in this category. The Government of Bihar is trying to address this problem and expand access to electricity by implementing reforms to improve the Bihar State Electricity Board’s finances and the availability of power.
Dr Anant Sudarshan will discuss an ongoing pilot implemented in partnership with the North and South Bihar Distribution Company. The project is designed to test if an innovative group collective incentive can be used to increase payment rates, thus reducing distribution losses and enabling the utility to expand electricity supply. The pilot scheme links the amount of electricity supplied to groups of industrial and residential consumers to their overall performance in paying for the electricity they consume. As the proportion of electricity bills paid increases, the hours of electricity supplied to that community also increases. Ultimately where the community ends up on this schedule depends on how much they value a higher quality of electricity supply.
Speaker Bio: Dr. Anant Sudarshan is India Director of the Energy Policy Institute at Chicago University (EPIC-India). He is also a Senior Research Associate at the Department of Economics, University of Chicago. Prior to working at EPIC, Anant was the Giorgio Ruffolo Post-doctoral Fellow in the Sustainability Science Program at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. He received his PhD in Management Science and Engineering from Stanford University and he holds undergraduate and Masters degrees in Mechanical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology (Delhi) and Stanford University respectively. Anant works at the intersection of environmental economics and engineering, with on-going research on a variety of areas including environmental regulation, air-pollution, climate change, energy efficiency, electricity and renewable energy. His present work includes collaboration with India’s Ministry for Environment and Forests to design and evaluate a pilot emissions trading program to regulate industrial air pollution. He is also working with the Governments of Bihar, Rajasthan and Maharashtra on electricity distribution reforms designed to reduce losses and enhance the supply of power.