India gets ‘I led the way’ to the US

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Capitalising on the tag line, ‘I led the way’, that Energy Efficiency Services limited (EESL) stands for, this government owned company is now gearing up to set up its 21st overseas office in New York in the near future. “We will go back by the weekend and my office will get cracking with the EESL on Monday to set the ball rolling on EESL’s US chapter. There was huge enthusiasm shown by the Green Bank and the Energy Council of the US earlier in the day during my meetings with them,” said Shri Piyush Goyal, Union Minister of State (IC) for Power, Coal and New and Renewable Energy. He was speaking at the Renewable Energy Investors Roundtable co-hosted by the Confederation of Indian Industry and the US India Business Council in New York on Thursday.

In what could be described in cricket analogy as a reverse sweep, India is taking its poster boy EESL to the US to share innovative ways of mainstreaming energy efficiency primarily on the back of economies of scale and transparent procurement. “The pricing of LED bulbs in India has been a game changer with prices falling by over 83 per cent in one year.” EESL has already completed distribution of 9 crore LED bulbs under its Domestic Efficient Lighting Program. Responding to investors queries on the volatility of the exchange rate and the need to address the hedging issue, the Minister said, “I am open to an earlier proposal of linking the debt to a basket of currencies including the USD, the JPY or even options like inflation linked tariffs to cover hedging risk.” He, however, pointed out that the Indian Rupee has been relatively strong over a long term and will be one of the stronger currencies given India’s growth potential.

In addition to the need to address hedging currency volatility in tariffs, Shri Goyal further said, the other important issues that were discussed during the course of his visit to the UK and US included the need for a stable and simplified policy and regulatory regime; standardized PPAs and equipment standardization.

Striking an optimistic note, Shri Goyal also projected India’s growth to be in double digits by next year if not this fiscal itself. The caveat being that India needs to get a strong monsoon.

Calling upon gas producers to explore investment opportunities in the Indian market, the Minister said, “India is willing to take gas for its gas based power projects and sign long term contracts of 10-15 years but this can be done at a fixed price of $5 per mmbtu as the power sector is a price sensitive sector in the country. With about 28 GW of stranded gas assets in the country, this is a huge and promising market as long as the prices are right and given the current Baltic index, I believe that this is a viable proposition.” He further added that India is currently exploring all means of gasification including coal bed methane.