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Common minimum targets

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013

The Power Summit ’13 organised by Independent Power Producers’ Association of Nepal ended on Tuesday, with investors, politicians, government officials, and experts agreeing on the need to develop a common minimum understanding regarding Nepal’s hydropower plan.

At a plenary discussion at the end of the two-day summit, panellists were asked about 1) exporting power to India, 2)developing a Power Trade Agreement with India on time, 3)setting up an independent transmission company, 4)establishing a separate power trading company, 5)confidence building measures for developers, and 6)immediate steps for hastening the pace of development.

The panel agreed on the urgent need of:

– passing the Electricity Act
– developing a PTA with India so that Nepal can export all surplus energy after its domestic demands are met
– increasing domestic demand within the country before surplus is hit
– removing inconsistencies out of land acquisition rules and maintaining political commitment
– reforming the Nepal Electricity Authority by giving separate entities the responsibility to create, operate, and distribute power
– building transmission lines to India to import or export power
– abandoning first-come first-serve methods of granting licenses
– creating a basin-based hydropower master-plan in light of Nepal’s imminent state restructuring

In the afternoon session on financing domestic projects, Yashing Zhang of China’s Sinohydro Resources Limited said his company had faced difficulties from inconsistent land acquisition policies, high taxes on imported construction material, lack of local government and resulting strikes, and the hassles in license procurement.

Discussions on demand within Nepal also showed that 40 per cent of the population had no access to electricity and demand for the most part was bare minimum. “All this talk about exporting power or meeting domestic demand is bound to be misleading when total demand for most consumers is limited to one CFL bulb per room,” said Pampha Bhusal of the CPN-M.

Former Minister of Water Resources Dipak Gyawali pointed out that all talk of exporting power via joint operation ventures on Mahakali, Karnali, Gandaki, and Kosi rivers would prove to be futile until Nepal and India worked out an understanding on the value of stored water. “The Mahakali treaty is going nowhere not because Nepal is lagging behind on its obligations, but because Uttarakhand does not want to drown its villages to provide irrigation water to Uttar Pradesh,” he said.

Bishwaprakash Pandit, secretary at the Ministry of Energy, said the government was looking to build transmission lines to India, solve land acquisition problems, and work out Power Purchase Agreements with private developers as immediate measures to solve the country’s power crisis.

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