Ninety-seven per cent of Indian households are connected to the electricity grid while 2.4 per cent remain un-electrified. Ninety-three per cent of grid-electrified Indian households have metered connections and 91 per cent are billed regularly, according to two independent studies released by the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW), a not-for-profit policy research institution.
The studies are based on findings from the India Residential Energy Survey (IRES) 2020 conducted by CEEW in collaboration with the Initiative for Sustainable Energy Policy (ISEP). IRES, covering nearly 15,000 households across 152 districts in 21 States of India, is the first-ever pan-India survey on the state of energy access, consumption and energy efficiency in Indian homes.
The studies, which also examine energy efficiency in Indian households, found that 88 per cent of Indian homes had LED bulbs on the back of the Government’s Unnat Jyoti by Affordable LEDs for All (UJALA) scheme and other State Government initiatives.
The CEEW studies found that 97 per cent of Indian households were connected to the grid, with another 0.33 per cent exclusively relying on off-grid electricity sources such as solar home systems, solar mini-grids, and battery storage.
However, an estimated 2.4 per cent of Indian households remained unelectrified. Most of such households were concentrated in the rural areas of Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Bihar. Further, the studies found that the inability to afford grid-electricity was a key reason for these households to not have a connection, despite the availability of free-connection under the Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana (Saubhagya).
State of access
The studies found that Jharkhand had the lowest share of grid users billed regularly (55 per cent), followed by Bihar (64 per cent). Billing irregularities were high in Assam, Uttar Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh as well. Given the poor payment rates across many States, power utilities must facilitate direct and indirect digital payment mechanisms by leveraging microentrepreneurs, such as grocery shops and general merchants.
The CEEW studies found that only 17 per cent of billed consumers pay their bills digitally (27 per cent in urban India and 12 per cent in rural India). This was despite the fact that 70 per cent of Indian households had a smartphone.
The CEEW studies found that only 25 per cent of Indian households were aware of the Bureau of Energy Efficiency’s star labelling programme. States with richer and more educated households had higher awareness levels.
The studies found that more than 75 per cent of AC users had star-labelled ACs and 60 per cent of households owned star-labelled refrigerators. However, the results for other key appliances such as geysers, televisions, ceiling fans, and washing machines were less. While 93 per cent of Indian homes used fans, only 3 per cent had energy-efficient fans.
India has made significant progress on energy efficiency uptake with one billion lamps and tubes in homes being LED-based. The share of households using LED lamps in Odisha was the highest, followed by Delhi, Uttarakhand, and Himachal Pradesh, mainly due to proactive government schemes.
The studies found that 40 per cent of the households ranked appliance cost as the most important factor in the purchase decision, followed by other parameters, including brand popularity, durability and energy savings. Making energy-efficient appliances affordable through bulk procurements, advance market commitments, or end-user financing is needed to drive the adoption of efficient appliances, according to the study.
Sanjay Malhotra, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Power, said, “We are setting up a committee to develop a framework to rank the distribution companies. Improving satisfaction rates, and viability and sustainability of discoms is very important. State-run discoms lose almost a rupee per unit sold”.
Shalu Agrawal, Programme Lead at CEEW and the lead author of the studies, said, “Electricity access has unlocked consumers’ aspirations, and more people would seek better lighting, thermal comfort, and infotainment. More than 20 per cent of Indian homes bought their first fan and TV during the decade of 2010-20. We expect to see multiple positive spillovers like higher demand for consumer durables, industrial growth, and livelihoods.”