Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Poor people are priority for subsidised power, not industry: Energy Minister Shobandeb Chattopadhyay

The minister said they are planning to introduce a new policy to meet the Centre’s revised target of generating 4,500 MW solar energy by 2022 in Bengal.

By: Express News Service | Kolkata |
August 13, 2016 12:32:08 am
Shobandeb Chattopadhyay 1200 Shobandeb Chattopadhyay at a seminar in Kolkata on Friday. Express Photo by Partha Paul

The West Bengal government cannot provide “enough subsidised power” to industrial units, as its priority was to provide cheap electricity to the poorer sections of society, state Power and Non-conventional Energy Minister Shobandeb Chattopadhyay said Friday.

“I understand that electricity is used as a raw material, and if its cost is high, then the finished product is also priced high. But it is the question of the government’s commitment to the people of the poorer section.

“We charge less from the below poverty level (BPL) consumers and cross-subsidize that against commercial and industrial rates,” Chattopadhyay said.

He was talking to industrialists during an interactive session on the sidelines of a seminar — ‘New perspectives of development of power and renewable energy in West Bengal’ — organised by Bharat Chambers of Commerce.

“At present, we are spending around Rs 500 crore in providing subsidised power. We are unable to provide anymore subsidy as it would affect the state economy,” he said.

He said the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) had recommended to raise the power tariff every quarter, but the “CM has already said that tariffs for households, which consume up to 300 units of power every month will not be raised under any circumstances”.

The minister said they are planning to introduce a new policy to meet the Centre’s revised target of generating 4,500 MW solar energy by 2022 in Bengal.

“We will bring a new solar policy to encourage investment. The old policy has failed to boost solar power generation in the state,” he said, adding that a draft policy had been submitted, and the same will be submitted with the government after public feedback was received.

Chattopadhyay said the Centre had decided to scale down the solar power generation target for Bengal from 5,200 MW to 4,500 MW.

“The state government did not want power tariff to go up, and thus, it was cautious on grid connected solar projects… We do not want the power tariff to rise due to solar energy,” he added.

However, the state is carrying out several solar projects, including electrification of schools and government offices. In Turga of Purulia, the state is planning to install a 1200-MW solar plant to feed a 1,000-MW pump storage hydel power plant.

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