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‘Telcos Prefer Our Service To Put Reliability In Their System’

Power Grid Corporation CMD I.S. Jha talks to BW Businessworld about the state of India’s power transmission network and the company’s growth prospects.

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I.S. Jha, CMD, Power Grid Corporation

How has India’s transmission infrastructure improved in recent years? What remains to be done?
The role of transmission, which Power Grid is dealing with, is changing. Today, transmission facilitates the market and due to enhancements and innovations in the transmission system, the cost of power has gone down significantly from Rs 12 per unit in 2010 to Rs 2 per unit now. Successful low-cost transmission is a major reason for the same. Today through effective transmission, low-cost power can be provided to any state, where the local cost of power is comparatively higher.

The government is planning 24x7 power supply in the entire country, which is possible only if the power is available in every corner of India. Hence, this system will enable power supply to all rural as well as urban areas.

How do you ensure the maintenance and the safety of power lines for nearby areas?
That is an important question because Power Grid now owns more than 1,30,000 kms of transmission lines. Maintenance for such large corridors is not an easy task, and thus technology is being used to manage and ensure safety of transmission in the nearby areas. We have started aerial monitoring of transmission lines and have already covered 2,000 kms of patrolling. For substation monitoring purposes, we have used the technique of automation of the substation. Adhering the same, we have opened National Transmission Asset Management Centre in Manesar from where all the transmission of power grid can be monitored. The project of installing other automation systems is in implementation stage.

Power Grid is closely working with the telecom sector. The cases of call dropping have significantly increased. How according to you the mitigation of the problem is possible?

Power Grid provides bandwidth to telcos, and we also leverage transmission network all over the country. To ensure full reliability, we are putting optical fibres on top of the towers. Till date, we have laid down 36,000 kms of optical fibre and through this we are providing the bandwidth to these telecom companies. Today, every operator is taking Power Grid’s service to put reliability in their system. This will minimise call dropping.

What are the developments regarding the solar power and desert power projects?
For solar power, the government has an ambitious plan of generating 1,75,000 MW by 2022, and Power Grid will follow the task by providing power transmission for the same. Initially, there were two challenges: first was the gestation period of solar power, which was one year for the normal transmission systems, but now it has been increased it to two and a half years. The second was the integration of solar as it used to fluctuate. Now, we have effectively handled both the challenges.

We have been given the task of laying transmission lines for green energy corridor, which is under implementation. We have a project to construct transmission lines for solar parks. Out of 20 solar parks, Power Grid has bagged seven solar park projects with a capacity of about 7,000 megawatts. Construction is in full swing. In Andhra Pradesh — the first solar park in India — we have already constructed the transmission lines before the construction of the solar park.

Are Power Grid using newer ways of transmission for Smart Cities?
Yes. For Smart Cities, we are considering two important things. First, a desirable power supply, and second is proper power distribution. Every house should get equal power supply. Also, we are planning to install smart grids. A smart grid will give a transparency to the consumer. The system will record all the information from the consumer’s house and send it directly to the control centre. Now, if there would be a power shortage, the control centre will automatically switch off the power from the station and save it. Other attributes are also there such as transmission maintenance, automatic maintenance of the system, demand management, etc.

Tell us about your corporate social responsibility welfare initiatives.
We are playing a major role in corporate social responsibility (CSR). Apart from contributing the mandatory 2 per cent of profits, our major focus is in Swacch Bharat Abhiyaan, for which we have constructed 9,500 toilets. Other than this, we are giving a lot of priority to health. In addition to blood donation and organ donation camps, we are donating ambulances to hospitals in the rural areas. We are also planning a big project called Power Grid Dharamshala, opposite AIIMS hospital in Delhi, for people who come from other cities and don’t have a place to stay. We are also making a special ward with the Tata Memorial Hospital, Mumbai, where we are investing Rs 30 crore.