After India’s blackout, US experts suggest energy sector reforms

August 2nd, 2012 - 11:06 am ICT by IANS  

Govinda Washington, Aug 2 (IANS) As power was getting restored in India after one of its worst blackouts in history, US energy experts called for reforms in India’s energy sector while US officials just said it’s an “internal Indian issue”.

“Obviously, we’re pleased that the lights are back on, that the power is back to this large amount of people who did not have electricity,” State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell told reporters Wednesday.

Declining to comment on a suggestion that India’s reduction of oil imports from Iran because of or lack of progress on the India-US civil nuclear deal may have contributed to the crisis, he said: “I’m not aware that that’s the case.”

“I mean, I think it would be a little difficult for me here from the State Department podium to give a deep analysis of the internal energy environment in India in terms of how their electrical grids work,” Ventrell said when pressed.

“I think that would be a bit of a stretch. It sounds to me like it’s primarily an internal Indian issue,” he added.

Meanwhile, two energy experts at Washington think tank Brookings Institution in an analysis piece, “Emerging Power Failure in India,” on the blackout said that this crisis must spark reforms in India’s electricity and energy sectors.

“Slow development of domestic resources, costly imported resources, burdensome regulations, and a lack of investment in distribution prevent India from meeting a growing demand for energy,” Brookings Energy Security Initiative’s Charles Ebinger and Govinda Avasarala wrote

Changing subsidy policy and setting market rates for fuel and electricity would lead to more revenue, more investment, and ultimately more reliable energy and electricity sectors, they argued.

US power experts cited by the New York Times suggested that critical circuit breakers on India’s power grid may have been neglected.

“The demand for power in India far surpasses the supply, with around 300 million people without access to electric power,” it noted.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

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