Friday, 21 October 2016

Discom losses to halve by FY19: CRISIL

Risk profile of discoms in UDAY states to improve, says the ratings agency

Ratings agency CRISIL estimates the aggregate ‘gap’ or loss of power distribution companies (discoms) in the 15 states that have joined the Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojana (UDAY) would more than halve to 28p a unit by 2018-19.

The gap, calculated as average revenue realised minus average cost of supply, was 64p a unit in FY16. Consequently, aggregate losses of these discoms are seen declining by 46 per cent, to Rs 20,000 crore from Rs 37,000 crore now.

The gap will still be well above the ‘nil’ envisaged under UDAY, as some states with very high aggregate technical and commercial losses aren't well prepared to reduce it. The reasons include inadequate feeder separation, feeder and distribution transformer metering, and a poor record on other efficiency parameters.

Also, with elections due in some within 12 months, their room to raise rates is restricted. Cross-subsidisation is also high.

Says Gurpreet Chhatwal, business head, large corporates, at CRISIL: ''Rajasthan, Haryana, Chhattisgarh, and Uttarakhand are expected to fare better in UDAY implementation and likely to be the biggest beneficiaries. UP, Bihar and Jammu & Kashmir are expected to be laggards. These three states would account for almost two-thirds of the gap in FY19. Concerted effort by them will be critical to narrowing the future gap.''

CRISIL says the energy requirements of discoms are expected to increase at a compound annual rate of seven per cent by FY19, compared with around four per cent till FY16. New signing of long-term power purchase agreements (PPAs) seems unlikely, with 25,000 Mw of capacities with already-signed PPAs to be operational by FY19. There will also be some pick-up in plant load factors at existing units, with better fuel availability.

Any uptick in long-term PPA signings is possible only if discoms turn profitable by FY19 and strive to meet the government’s ‘Power for all’ objective.

Over the past year, initiatives to increase coal production, and the 5:25 refinancing scheme of the Reserve Bank of India have reduced operational capacities at risk by 6,000 Mw, to 40,000 M2 from the 46,000 Mw that CRISIL had earlier flagged.

Says Sudip Sural, senior director at the agency: ''While lack of fresh long-term PPAs continues to impact generation capacities, facilitation of medium-term PPAs and corresponding coal linkages, continued focus on augmenting domestic coal production, and facilitation of open access by states can help further reduce the capacities at risk.''

As for under-construction thermal projects, CRISIL estimates 24,000 Mw of capacities face viability issues. Of these, 13,000 Mw face commissioning risks because of weak sponsors. The others have to address poor offtake by discoms or inadequate fuel arrangements. A third of capacities with weak sponsors can be revived through debt restructuring or sale to a new sponsor..

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