March 27: Stakeholders have pointed out the need to improve the existing policies to increase the use of domestically produced electricity. They say that no matter how popular the government's slogan is, if the same policy continues, the use of electricity will not increase as expected.
Experts and stakeholders in the power sector argued that the state's policy implementation capacity is also very weak. Energy sector expert Narayan Gyawali, who is also the president of the National Association of Community Electricity Users-Nepal (NACEUN) said that to increase electricity consumption, electricity must first reach the homes of all Nepalese.
“The government said six years ago that electricity can be delivered to all the households of Nepali citizens, but it is yet to come true. The government is now saying that it will reach every household after two years.”
According to Gyawali, even in places with access to electricity, there is not enough quality electricity to run all the equipment. He said that although electricity lines are connected to some houses and apartments, they still rely on generators to meet the demand. Gyawali, added that the current system should be updated to improve the quality of electricity. He also suggested the government to make the electricity tariff easy for common consumers to pay.
It’s been a long time since the government has been promoting the use of electric induction stoves in order to increase the electricity consumption and save foreign exchange reserves on LP gas imports. However, electric stoves are used in the kitchens of only few Nepalese. Consumers say that there is no guarantee of regular supply of electricity and they are continuing to use gas as there is no difference in purchasing gas cylinders and induction stoves.
Energy entrepreneurs also say that the government should make induction stoves cheaper. They are insisting on giving VAT exemption on utensils used with induction stoves.
Mohan Bahadur Dangi, vice president of the Independent Power Producers' Association, Nepal (IPPAN) says that the state should make people realize that using induction stoves is beneficial. Dangi said, “The government is now giving a subsidy of Rs 592 per cylinder on LP gas. If gas subsidy is cut and given to induction stoves or electricity tariffs, the use of induction stoves as well as electricity-powered goods will increase. And the demand for electricity will also increase.”
He opined that the government should also introduce programs to encourage the use of electric vehicles to increase electricity demand.
Dangi further added, “Government should also bring a program to convert diesel and petrol vehicles into electric ones.” He said that it is equally important to build infrastructure including charging stations at different places to promote the use of electric vehicles.
Government officials claim that electricity consumption is increasing nationwide. The spokesperson for the Ministry of Energy, Madhu Prasad Bhetuwal said that the government is introducing various programs to further increase the demand for electricity.
He said, “The government has given high priority to the use of electric vehicles. Necessary structures are being built for this. We have started the use of induction stoves and gas displacement program from Singha Durbar and KMC.” He said that electricity is being provided at a low rate to increase the demand in agriculture, irrigation and drinking water sectors.
Bhetuwal also admitted that electricity transmission and distribution system is yet to reach some parts of the country. According to the Nepal Electricity Authority, electricity reached about 96 percent of the country's population by December. According to the authority, about 92 percent of the population has access to electricity through the national transmission line and 4 percent through alternative energy. The goal is to provide electricity to the remaining 4 percent of the population within the next fiscal year.
Electrification has been done through alternative energy in areas that do not have access to national grid. Officials of the authority say that only 30/35 rural municipalities are yet to be electrified out of 753 local units. Electricity supplied to remote areas through alternative energy cannot be used for other purposes except for lighting.