Tripura Power Minister Addresses Vital Challenges and Initiatives at North Eastern Power Ministers Conference

By Our Correspondent

Agartala, July 9, 2024

Tripura's State Power Minister Ratan Lal Nath articulated significant concerns and strategic initiatives during his participation at the North Eastern Power Ministers Conference held in Guwahati. The conference, attended by Union Power Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, witnessed discussions on bolstering Tripura's power infrastructure amidst pressing challenges.

During the North Eastern Power Ministers' conference in Guwahati, State Power Minister Ratan Lal Nath highlighted critical issues affecting Tripura's power sector. Minister Nath drew attention to the significant rise in gas prices for power generation, stating that costs had escalated from $2.90 per MMBTU to the current rate of $6.50 per MMBTU since 2022. He emphasized the impact of these increases on the state's electricity production costs and urged the Union Ministry of Power and the Union Petroleum Ministry to consider measures to reduce gas prices.

State Power Minister requested the Union Minister to set up a State of Art Training Centre in Tripura. Where it has been decided that Tripura and Nagaland will be provided Special Grant for this infrastructure.

Additionally, Minister Nath outlined several infrastructure development initiatives for Tripura, including the construction of a 400 KV substation in Suryamaninagar. He requested full funding for this project from the Central Power Ministry. Furthermore, he appealed for central support in meeting for Tripura's intra-state transmission requirements until 2030, estimated at1000 crore. Minister Nath also proposed the reinstatement of the Power System Development Fund to bolster power sector advancements. Shri Nath also emphasized on the Power System Development Fund which has been presently stopped in our country. Minister requested to start the fund for Northeastern states immediately, where the central group has assured that they will analyse the matter and will try to start the fund for NE States.

Addressing future energy needs, Minister Nath raised the issue of establishing pumped storage by the National Hydro Power Corporation in Longthrai subdivision, stressing the project's importance in enhancing power generation capacity. He underscored the ongoing preparation of project reports for this initiative.

Power Ministers from various Northeastern States like Mizoram, Manipur, Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland, and senior officials from Union Power Ministry and various PSUs, were also present in the conference and it concluded with discussions on collaborative efforts to strengthen the power sector across North Eastern states, including Tripura.

This conference marked a pivotal moment for advancing Tripura's power infrastructure, with Minister Nath advocating for comprehensive support from the Central Government to ensure sustainable and affordable electricity services for the region.Highlighting Tripura's current power landscape, Minister Ratan Lal Nath emphasized the state's peak demand of 360 MW and its role as a key exporter of electricity to Bangladesh, ranging from 90 MW to 160 MW. With a per-capita consumption of 471 kWh, Tripura serves a predominantly domestic consumer base, constituting 89% of its total 9,99,819 consumers.Acknowledging Tripura's geographical and financial constraints, Minister Nath focused on the state's dependency on central and external aids for comprehensive development across sectors, including power infrastructure.

In recent years, Tripura has secured substantial financial assistance, including a historic ?2275 Cr. agreement with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) for the Tripura Power Distribution Strengthening and Generation Efficiency Project. Additionally, initiatives like the Revamped Reformed based Result-linked Distribution Sector Scheme (RDSS) and PM-JANMAN aim to enhance operational efficiency and provide electricity connections to Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTG) households, notably the Reang community.

The state has successfully implemented national schemes such as DDUGJY, Saubhagya, and IPDS, achieving 100% electrification by November 2018. Currently, efforts are focused on executing projects like the North Eastern Regional Power System Improvement Project (NERPSIP), aimed at enhancing Tripura's power transmission network with an investment of ?1800 Cr.

In recognition of its operational excellence, Tripura's State Load Dispatch Centre (SLDC) was honored with the LDC Excellence Award 2022 at the 22nd National Power Systems Conference.Looking towards renewable energy, Tripura is actively pursuing solar power projects under schemes like PM-Devine and PM-KUSUM, with notable installations including micro-grid solar power plants, solar street lighting systems, and rooftop solar panels across government buildings.

Despite these advancements, Minister Nath raised concerns over the recent spike in gas prices, impacting the cost of power generation in Tripura. He urged the Ministry of Power to collaborate with the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas for a reconsideration of gas pricing under APM arrangements, essential for sustaining affordable electricity rates.

The shortage in gas supply from ONGC's Tripura fields has further strained local power generation, affecting state-owned gas-based power plants and necessitating additional power purchases from the exchange market. This situation has posed financial challenges for the Tripura State Electricity Corporation Limited (TSECL).

Minister Nath concluded by expressing optimism in overcoming these challenges through continued collaboration with the central government, ensuring sustainable growth and stability in Tripura's power sector. The conference was also attended by the state power secretary Shri Abhishek Singh, TSECL MD Biswajit Bose, GM TPTL Ranjan Debbarma and other officials of TSECL, TPGL & TPTL.

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