In several Indian states agricultural (AG) electricity consumption is said to be in the range of 20% to 30 % of total electricity consumption in the state. Most agricultural consumers are un-metered and their consumption is estimated using different methodologies. This leads to uncertainty and disagreement about reliable estimation of agricultural consumption. Responding to a long drawn controversy about sudden increase in agricultural consumption in FY 14-15 and about actual agricultural consumption, Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) formed a working group (WG) to study agricultural consumption in the state. Prayas was invited to be a member of the working group. Prayas made significant contribution in developing sampling methodology, survey questionnaire, analysis of feeder data and report of the working group.

As part of this study, working group undertook field survey of 1.33 lac agricultural consumers and detailed analysis of AMR / MRI feeder meter data of about 500 agricultural feeders. The analysis of AG metering status based on this field survey shows that compared to utility records, meters are present for only 27% metered AG consumers. Further in cases where meter readings could be validated, more than 50% readings were found to be incorrect. This highlights significant challenges in metering agricultural consumers. Analysis carried out by the WG also indicate that even technical losses on AG feeders may be far higher than expected. This could be due to feeder loading pattern, large number of DTs on AG feeders and feeder length. Based on such rigorous analysis WG concluded that AG sales in the state are much lower than projected by the utility / DISCOM.

In it’s tariff order dt. 30th March 2020, based on final report of the WG, MERC restated agricultural sales since 2014-15. For FY 2018-19, MERC approved AG sales of 25,380 MU which is about 22% less than claim of utility / DISCOM. This has resulted in restatement of distribution losses from 14.7% to 20.54 %, an increase of 5.84 percentage point. As a result of this more realistic assessment of AG sales and distribution losses, MERC has stipulated loss reduction trajectory for utility. This is expected to significantly improve operational efficiency, tariff benefits for consumers and increase in financial resources for the utility. Methodology and approach developed by the working group would be useful for other states also for better estimation of AG sales.

Final report is also available on MERC website