KCR pushes for solar power

Hyderabad: Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao on Wednesday instructed Energy Department officials to float tenders for establishing 1,000 mega watts (MW) of solar power plants in the State. Solar power costs less and should be used to meet the demand for electricity for the lift irrigation schemes in the State, the Chief Minister said.

Telangana currently has 3,583 MW of installed solar power capacity and is the second in the country on this front, next only to Karnataka, which has an installed solar generation capacity of 5,328 mega watts. By adding another 1,000 MW to its solar energy production, Telangana will have a total of 4,583 MW of this renewable energy.

The Chief Minister’s instructions came at a high level review meeting of the Energy Department and policies to be adopted by the government and power utilities. During the meeting, Chandrashekhar Rao stressed on financial viability of the utilities and asked the Finance Department to evolve a policy that ensures this goal.

Chandrashekhar Rao also made it clear that it was the responsibility of the government departments and local bodies – gram panchayats and municipalities – to pay their power bills on time. And to give them a leg up on this front, the government will clear the electricity bill dues as a one-time settlement. “We will bring to zero the dues owed to the utilities to strengthen them financially,” he said.

Special grants in budget

The Chief Minister declared that the State government will provide special grants in the State budget so that the power utilities are paid for the electricity supplied to lift irrigation schemes and for the 24-hour free power supply to farmers. “The dues will be paid dutifully by the government every month. Further, the government will stand guarantee to the utilities when they seek to raise funds from other sources,” he said.

Referring to the dues owed to power utilities by gram panchayats and municipalities as “unacceptable,” the Chief Minister said that from now onwards, all local bodies and HMWS&SB must pay their electricity bills on time every month. If bills are not paid on time, then action will be taken against village secretaries, sarpanches, municipal chairpersons and municipal corporation commissioners, he warned.

Discipline in usage
The Chief Minister also called for careful use of power and discipline in the use of street lighting. Power must not be wasted by keeping the lights on throughout the day, he said.

As far as government departments are concerned, he said these too need discipline in power usage as many of them are not paying their bills on time. From now on, the Finance Department will make direct payments to utilities for the power bills incurred by government departments, he said.

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