An action plan to increase electricity consumption?

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The government has set a target of increasing the per capita electricity consumption by 90 units in the current fiscal year 2077/78, but it has increased by only 7 units in the first seven months.

It is seen that the target will not be achieved as the government has not come up with an action plan to increase electricity consumption. The government, which is preparing to export electricity to India in the coming rainy season, has not given priority to plans to increase domestic consumption. Experts in the energy sector say that the government’s tendency not to bring an integrated action plan to implement the policy has limited the issue of increasing electricity consumption to speeches.

The government had also announced in its budget speech for the current fiscal year to encourage increase in electricity consumption. “The use of electric household appliances, including electric stoves, electric vehicles, power consuming industries and industries that consume more energy while saving electricity will be further facilitated,” the then finance minister said. It was said in the budget brought by Yuvaraj Khatiwada. No body has yet started work to implement this declaration.

Former Executive Director of Nepal Electricity Authority, Kulman Ghising, says that if the domestic electricity consumption can be increased, the country’s economy will be more active and industry, business and employment will increase. “Increasing power consumption within the country should be the first priority to strengthen the economy,” he said.

He is of the opinion that the profit from selling electricity within the country will be bigger and more important than the income from selling electricity abroad. However, he said that export of electricity should also be started immediately.

The Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) had failed to bid Rs 4.80 per unit in the tender called by the Indian government to buy 25 MW of electricity this year. The company that offered Rs 4.16 per unit won the tender.

NEA, which has 24.719 million electricity consumers, has been able to increase the per capita electricity consumption by only 7 units to 267 units by January. By the end of this year, per capita electricity consumption is estimated to reach only 286 units.

NEA is buying electricity from private sector hydropower projects at Rs 4.80 per unit during the rainy season. Consumers are paying more than Rs 7 per unit on average. Therefore, it is clear that NEA will also benefit more if it can consume electricity within the country rather than selling it.

Former Energy Secretary Anup Kumar Upadhyaya says that electricity consumption has not increased as expected due to lack of intervention plan to implement the existing policy. “As the size of the economy grows, so does the rate of electricity consumption,” he said.

Low growth in seven months

The government aims to increase the per capita electricity consumption from 260 units to 350 units by next July. NEA has sold 4.13 billion 17.41 million units of electricity till the first seven months of the current fiscal year.

NEA, which has 24.719 million electricity consumers, has been able to increase the per capita electricity consumption by only 7 units to 267 units by January. By the end of this year, per capita electricity consumption is estimated to reach only 286 units.

Experts say this is because the government has adopted an economic policy to discourage electricity consumption. Former Energy Secretary Upadhyaya says that the target of increasing electricity consumption will not be met until an action plan is made to create consumption in the country.

The white paper issued by the Ministry of Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation on 25 April 2075 has set a target of increasing the per capita electricity consumption to 700 units within 5 years and 1500 units within 10 years. Going forward with the current policy, such a target is not likely to be achieved on the basis of normal growth rate.

Appropriate time to increase consumption

There is pressure to increase domestic electricity consumption due to the recent increase in production during the rainy season. The government is more focused on exporting to India than increasing electricity consumption.

According to the government’s claim, trial production at the 456 MW Upper Tamakoshi Hydropower Project will start from next April. It is estimated that about 800 MW of the projects under construction will be connected to the national transmission line by July.

At present, the project is generating electricity at full capacity during the rainy season. When the projects in the final stage of construction are completed, the total installed capacity of the country’s power projects will reach 3,000 MW.

In the last rainy season, NEA had to waste up to 200 MW of electricity at night due to lack of electricity consumption. In such a situation, if the internal consumption can be increased, there is no compulsion to sell electricity cheaply and experts say that there will be more profit by increasing the use of electricity in the country.

After Kulman Ghising took the lead of NEA, the consumption rate had started to rise instead of declining. In the Fiscal Year 2072/73, the annual electricity consumption was 3.71 billion 58 million units. This consumption rate was about 0.7 percent less than that of FY 2071/72.

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