“Presently India has a total grid connected Solar PV to the tune of 1030 MW and West Bengal has only 2.5 MW of Installed capacity from Solar PV” said S.P.GonChaudhuri while addressing an august gathering at the Roundtable Discussion organised jointly by CUTS International West Bengal Electricity Regulatory Commission (WBERC) on the new Renewable Energy Policy for the state. This meeting was organised under the DREC project being implemented by CUTS International to disseminate the pressing issues and findings from the project and to deliberate on the challenges in effective implementation of the new RE Policy of West Bengal. ”Lack of availability of potent renewable resources and absence of a coherent clear cut Renewable Energy Policy have been the two major reasons behind it. The new policy and the ensuing regulations should together create the environment for encouraging private investment in the state”, said Gon Chaudhuri.

Prasad Ranjan Ray, Chairperson, WBERC, said that in the heels of the RE Policy, WBERC has come up with two draft regulations to provide impetus to growth in renewable energy in the state. He also mentioned that in addition to renewables, a strong thrust on energy efficiency is required to efectively meet the needs of the present energy guzzling civilisation.

Malay Kumar De, Principal Secretary, Department of Power, Government of West Bengal, told that a policy shows the intent of the government and informed that the government is very serious about development of the power sector, especially in the RE front. He welcomed suggestions from participants and said that the policy was open for review from time to time and further refinement.

Sunil Mitra, Independent Director, West Bengal Electricity Distribution Company Limited (WBSEDCL) highlighted the need for strengthening the capabilities of the implementing agencies like West Bengal Renewable Energy Development Authority (WBREDA) and West Bengal Green Energy Development Corporation Limited (WBGEDCL) with more manpower, both in terms of number and quality.

Ketan Shukla, Secretary, Gujarat Electricity Regulatory Commission, said that “Government’s job is to frame policies and Regulators job is to implement those and there should not be any confusion in between. In Gujarat he mentioned, there is a financial stability for the renewable energy investors and developers who are getting a 14% return on investment, which was made possible through strong regulatory vision and action”. He further added that “In Gujarat all the electricity distribution companies (DISCOMS) are going to meet their Renewable Energy Purchase Obligation (RPO) of 7%”.

Keya Ghosh, Centre Head, CUTS Calcutta Resource Centre pointed out that the policy has not provided scope and space for participation of consumers and CSOs. She further added that RE Equipments market should be enhanced many fold by making net metering available to mass consumers.

Joyashree Roy, Department of Economics, Jadavpur University, emphasised that the policy has not really been able to link the climate change perspective by providing the required push for a change over from high carbon fuel to low carbon ones. It steers away from the all important aspect of carbon price and has not really addressed the issue of market uncertainty which is crucial for motivating private developers.

The industry representatives felt that West Bengal had better scope for Solar when compared to Wind or Biomass and therefore concentrated efforts are need in Solar. The rural CSOs shared that poor quality of after-sale service and high initial investment are the two road blocks in the adoption of RE equipments. Thus with all stakeholders sharing their views and suggestions, the very rich discussion was the highlight of the meeting.

For further details please contact:
Dr.Keya Ghosh, Centre Head, CUTS Calcutta Resources Centre, kg@cuts.org, +9198312 19339
Arnab Ganguly, Project Officer, CUTS Calcutta Resource Centre, ag@cuts.org, +9198744 10391