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| Last Updated:: 13/01/2016






Energy plays a very important role in our lives. The conventional sources of energy are depleting fast. With this impending scarcity, coupled with concerns of climate change and global warming, the relevance of renewable energy increases manifolds and their adoption and propagation have gained importance. The major demand for energy is from the domestic, commercial, Industry, and agriculture sectors. Power is the basic infrastructural requirement for the growth of industries as well as over-all economy of the State. However, despite Assam possessing immense potential of power ranging from hydel to natural gas including oil and coal resources, the progress of this sector in the State has not taken place on a scale commensurate with the possibilities. As a result, there exists a big gap between availability and demand for power in the State.



Present Power Scenario:  


Assam Power Distribution Company Limited (APDCL) is mandated to supply electricity to all consumers of the state of Assam. The company has made all out endeavour to improve power supply position of the state and is now supplying power to the extent of 95% to 100% during Off- peak hours and to 90 to 95 % during Peak (evening) hours. However, the company expresses its regret to its esteemed consumers for occasional power shortage situation faced due to reasons beyond the reasonable control of the company. It is a fact that there has been a steep increase of demand for power duringthe last 3-4 years in the state. In Guwahati alone in the past five years, there has been a threefold increase in demand for power. Until a couple of years back, only 16% rural households were electrified, which has now enhanced to about 50%; but as per the National Electricity Policy, steps have been undertaken to electrify every household of Assam by the year 2019. As such, there has been a great increase in demand for power in the rural as well as urban areas in recent times.


Also with the increased development and better economic activities during the last few years, this year, Assam has been experiencing an average peak demand for power to the tune of 1400 MW. This is approximately2 (two) times what it was five years ago. It is a matter of cheer that the 726 MW OTPC power project located at Palatana in Tripura has now been commissioned to generate and Assam is getting its share to a tune of 200MW which has contributed in reducing demand supply gap. Further, to tide over this shortfall due to increasing demand APDCL is exploring different sources of power. In this endeavor, APDCL has managed to procure power from DVC and NTPC to avoid inconvenience of loads shading to the esteemed consumers.


Till now, Assam is mainly dependent on hydro generations. This is about 60% of the total existing availability. Most of these hydro generators are sourced through Run on River (RoR) which is solely dependent on the rainfall in the respective catchments areas. It was expected that these hydro generators would pick up to 100% of its capacity during this monsoon. Also, the gas based thermal power stations are generating far below their full capacity due to inadequate supply of gas etc. The total availability of power, at present, is around 1200 MW including State's own generations of about 260 MW. APDCL is making efforts to minimize this 200 MW deficit by procuring 100-150 MW from the open market. Efforts are also being made to enhance the percentage allocation of power to Assam from unallocated source in the Eastern Region.


Daily power position in Assam


33/11 KV Sub-Stations:

      Lower Assam Region      

      Central Assam Region

      Upper Assam Region


Energy Calculator


Power Map of Assam:



Requirement and Shortage of Electricity of the State:

Renewable Energy


The energy requirement of the human population with excessive dependence on the fossil fuel resources such as coal, oil and natural gas is not only not sustainable in the long-run, but also has its adverse impact on the environment and ecology with disastrous consequences to natural resources. This is how non-conventional or renewable sources of energy have attracted global attention and evoked interest among planners, policy makers, economists and environmental activists as a viable option to achieve the goal of sustainable development.


The different renewable sources of energy include hydel power, wind power, solar power, and biomass power and ocean energy. These innclude recycling the industrial, urban and agriculture waste to extract the energy content for useful application which leads to environment friendly waste disposal and also recovering the energy contained in these wastes through suitable technologies to supplement the different energy supply options. Another direction is the transport sector where huge quantities of hydrocarbons are used, the burning of which results in the rapid increase of air pollution levels. Alternate fuels for surface transport such as electricity, compressed natural gas (CNG) and fuel cells are environment friendly options. India is blessed with an abundance of sunlight, water and biomass. India has the world’s largest programme for renewable energy. The Government created the Department of Non-conventional Energy Sources (DNES) in 1982. In 1992 a full fledged Ministry of Non-conventional Energy Sources was established under the overall charge of the Prime Minister.


Solar Energy 

Solar water heaters have proved the most popular and the solar photovoltaic for decentralized power supply are fast becoming popular in rural and remote areas.


SPV Systems 

More than 700000 PV systems of capacity over 44MW for different applications are installed all over India. The market segment and usage is mainly for home lighting, street lighting, solar lanterns and water pumping for irrigation. Over 17 grid interactive solar photovoltaic generating more than 1400 KW are in operation in 8 states of India. As the demand for power grows exponentially and conventional fuel based power generating capacity grows arithmetically especially in the farflung rural areas where the availability of power from conventional electric lines is unlikely, SPV power generation is the best alternative.


Wind Power


India now ranks as a “wind superpower” with an installed wind power capacity of 1167 MW and about 5 billion units of electricity have been fed to the national grid so far. Wind resource assessment programme, wind monitoring, wind mapping, covering 800 stations in 24 states with 193 wind monitoring stations are in operations.


Renewable Energy Scenerio in Assam: 

Assam possesses immense potential for development of her power sector based on Hydel, Natural gas, Oil and Coal resources. With a total population of over 2.2 crores and a total geographical area of nearly 80,000 sq. Km, Assam encompasses varying geographical terrain covering a number of ethnic groups and culture.


While the earlier norm of rural electrification of one light point in a villages terming the village to be electrified, may be seen to be somewhat fulfilling the 70% village electrification achievement, with the present scenario of rural electrification, there are a very large number of villages which stand as ‘remote and inaccessible’ and cannot be electrified by conventional mode of grid electricity. The state electricity Board has come out with a list of 2800 villages under this category. But there are further more villages in this category. Though Assam has 6 nos of power projects with an installed capacity of 574 MW against the peak demand of 504 MW, there is always a shortfall as the Plant Load factor (PLF) of these power plants are quite low. Considering all these, to fulfill the demand for energy in the state procurement of renewable energy or non-conventional energy is the need of the hour.


During 1988, the Energy Division of the ASTE Council has made very significant progress in implementation of New and Renewable Sources of Energy (NRSE) as well as Energy Conservation programmes and projects in Assam. This division is now converted to an agency called Assam Energy Development Agency (AEDA) to act as a State Nodal Agency for implementation of different renewable energy programmes as well as to take up energy conservation activities under MNES, Govt. of India.


Solar Photovoltaic Programme


The Energy Division of ASTE Council installed 32 solar home lighting systems in Oct, 1992 and the total achievements in installation in solar home lighting systems upto December 2002 had been 2641. Under the Solar Photovoltaic Programme till March- 2003, 76 villages have been electrified with solar home lighting units under projects sponsored by NEC, MNES and the State Govt. Of late i.e. by July 2003, another 1700 houses have been electrified by SPV home lighting systems distributed throughout the state.


Few similar project implemented by ASTEC in Assam:


•     Solar Electrification of 9 villages in Sonapur Area, in Kamrup district.

•     Solar Electrification of 11 villages in Impoi Area, in N.C. Hills district.

•     Solar Electrification of 36 villages in Cachar District.

•     Solar electrification of 400 rural houses of Bodo tribal women in Gohpur area engaged in weaving. 100 systems have already been installed and 200 are under installation.

•     Solar Lighting in Aazan Peer Dargah:-The historic Aazan Peer Dargah at Sivasagar was povided with Solar Lighting with 14 Solar Home Lighting Systems and 6 solar Street Lights.


Energy Park (Sponsored by MNES)


Eleven small Energy Parks have been set up at Assam Engineering Institute, Guwahati, Silchar Polytechnic, Silchar, Girls Polytechnic, Guwahati, Cotton College, Guwahati, H.S. Kanoi College, Dibrugarh, College of Home Science, Jorhat, Diphu Govt. College, Diphu, Nalbari College, Nalbari, Assam University, Silchar, Tezpur University, Tezpur, Srimanta Sankardeva Kalakshetra with financial assistance from MNES. Another state level Renewable Energy Park has been sanctioned by MNES at Srimanta Sankardeva Kalakshetra, Panjabari, Guwahati with an estimated cost of around Rs. 91 lakhs. Some civil works has already been computed under this park.


Mobile Exhibition Van

The division of the council has procured a Renewable Energy Exhibition Van from Punjab Energy Development Agency under a sanctioned project of MNES. The project is co-sponsored by Oil India Limited; North Eastern Council and Ministry of Non-Conventional Energy Source, Govt. of India.


“Around 70% of the households of Assam do not have electricity connection.” Census Report for 2011 has shown that “kerosene remained the major source of light for 61.8 per cent of house holds” (The Sentinel, March 31, 2012). Many people will find this fact unbelievable in the 21st century and in a State where loud claims of economic development have been made in the recent past. But this is the most glaring fact about the power sector of Assam today. This figure has been derived from the Budget Speech for 2011-12 in which the Chief Minister had said that “at present around 75% of urban households and 25% of the rural households are getting power supply.” About 87% of the people live in rural areas. Naturally, therefore, only 30% of the total households are getting electricity supply.


Statistics apart, the ground situation is rather pathetic. A majority of people do not have electricity or gas in their houses. They depend upon kerosene which is in short supply and is very highly priced in the black market. Some quantity of rationed kerosene is distributed by the government. But the Public Distribution System (PDS) is rather inefficient and corrupt too. In the rural areas, many people are forced to use fire-wood which they obtain by foraging around the depleting forests. This in turn has created the problems of environmental degradation, climatic change and health hazards. The scenario, therefore, is really grim.


The Budget Speech has acknowledged that “against the peak demand of 1100MW, the total power available is around 800MW”. This estimate seems to be based on demand from the existing consumers. The potential demand from those who are now deprived has not been included. With the increase in population and the acceleration in the process of economic development, power demand will go up many times. According to the Assam Government’s latest estimates, the per capita availability of electrical energy was 142 kwh in 2008-09. Later figures are not available. Government statistics are clumsily presented and different sets are not exactly comparable. But the ‘‘average energy per capita’’ consumption in India has been estimated at 682 kwh. As against this, the figure has been shown as 10381 kwh in USA and 1616 kwh in China. These figures will show the poor state of affairs in Assam.


An extrapolation of energy demand was made by the State Government itself on the basis of four assumptions. It was projected that the peak demand of electricity in Assam would grow to 2163 MW in 2011-12, 2572 MW in 2012-13, 2763 MW in  2014-15 and 3423 MW in 2019-20. The assumptions made were: 100% household electrification by 2012; GDP growth to catch up with nation; 10% annual growth in industry; and captive generation to come back to grid @10% annually. These are realistic assumptions. However, the forecasts did not come true nor did the government make any concentrated efforts to improve the power supply position. That is why demand remained at only 1100 MW and supply at 800MW in 2010-11 as had been admitted by the Chief Minister.


There have been protests all over the state against Assam State Electricity Board (ASEB)’s failure to meet the requirements of the existing consumers. Except in Guwahati city, power is not supplied regularly in any other town. In villages, people get power hardly for a few hours in the day. People, therefore, have become restive. In some places, agitations were mounted. In a few locations, disturbances and damage to public and private property also occurred in protests against power cuts and outages. People have lost valuable domestic gadgets due to voltage fluctuations. Students have suffered due to power shut-downs. Businesses have to make alternative arrangements for power supply through generators. Households have to fix up inverters. The cost of such alternative arrangements is tremendous. The social cost of alternative energy sources used up is also large. It has its repercussions on the other sectors of the economy. These sectors are made to suffer due to shortage of kerosene, diesel, furnace oil etc.


The Chief Minister has given a rather bright picture of the power scenario in Assam in his Budget Speech. He has also given targets for improvement on all fronts. Critics and the general public are, however, sceptical about the government’s ability to achieve such targets. They also doubt the sincerity and devotion of bureaucrats and technocrats engaged in the power sector. They feel that excuses have been made up to explain away the failures to achieve the past targets. In most cases the causes of such failures were neither analysed nor any corrective steps taken. Everyone believes that the situation must change and steps must be taken to ensure future success.


Several experts have given ideas and constructive suggestions in the media for the State government and ASEB to adopt. It is not known what is the authorities’ reaction to such suggestions. I feel that the authorities concerned must change their attitude and examine these ideas and suggestions carefully instead of dismissing these as unwarranted criticism.

I have carefully gone through the detailed proposals of the ASEB. These have been again briefly outlined in the Governor’s Speech of June 7, 2011 and the Chief Minister’s Budget Speech of July 11, 2011. I feel that these measures alone cannot meet the emerging situation. A systematic approach is required to solve the problem.


In any plan drawn up now, utmost emphasis must be given on administration and management reforms. The steps taken in the recent past do not appear to have yielded the desired results. It has been claimed that “a 250 million US dollar Asian Development Bank (ADB) funded Power Sector Reforms Programme has brought about substantial changes in the power sector and promoted efficiency in generation, transmission and distribution of power”. But people have yet to see the improvements. Therefore, future plans must be based on a very careful study of the past experience. It must be remembered  that “worldwide evidence suggests that electricity reform works only in the presence of strong, independent regulators, insulated from political and commercial pressures” (Economic Survey, 2010-11).


In Assam, “aggregate technical and commercial losses” are very high. It has been claimed that such losses have been brought down from 42% to 27% (and to 25%) in the past five years. Certain steps have been spelled out to improve the situation by taking up construction of new substations, replacing of damaged distribution transformers and handing over of selected feeder lines to franchisees. Moreover, any plan for future power generation in Assam will have to be based on a proper configuration of contributions from different sources. In regard to the traditional sources, former President APJ Abdul Kalam has emphasized that nuclear power “provides a relatively clean, high density source of reliable energy with an international presence.” India’s plans have given due importance to nuclear power. My own research, way back in 1975-77, had clearly brought out the superiority of nuclear power as an economic option in the southern region of India. However, in Assam, it may not be necessary to consider any nuclear power stations for the present because our hydel and thermal resources are quite substantial. Besides, the long gestation period of nuclear power projects will not suit our time profile. We need power rather urgently. Therefore, short-term planning will have to be given priority.        


Energy Saving Tips

Dos and Don’ts

The Electricity Act 2003 

Assam Small Hydro Power Policy 2007

Assam Electricity Regulation Commission (Conduct of Business) Regulations, 2004

Companies Act 2013

Assam Electricity Regulation Commission Tariff Amendment 2014




Assam Power Distribution Company Ltd.

Assam Energy Development Agency 

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