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Transmission and distribution (T&D) losses

in India
In India, average T & D losses have been officially indicated as 27% of the electricity generated. However in
studies carried out by independent agencies these losses have been estimated to be as high as 50% in some
states. This huge loss is bleeding the countrys resources when compared to the developed worlds average
which is below 10%.
To put these figures into perspective, out of 803409 million kWh of total electricity generated in 2010. 401704.5
million kWh of electricity is lost or unaccounted for. The per capita consumption of electricity in India is 542
kWh. If this wasted resource is properly utilised 741 million more individuals can have access to electricity. Even
if official figures are to be believed and only 198418 million kWh is the loss 366 million more people can have
access to electricity. This figure is of even more concern because 46% of rural India is still un-electrified.


An extreme example of power theft

The technical losses are due to energy dissipated in the conductors

and equipment used for transmission, transformation, subtransmission and distribution of power. These technical losses are
inherent in a system and can be reduced to an optimum level (710%). Depending upon the stage of power transformation &
transmission system is classified as Transmission Losses
(400kV/220kV/132kV/66kV), as Sub transmission losses (33kV /11kV)
and Distribution losses (11kV/0.4kv).
Technical Losses:
Overloading of existing lines and substation equipments
Use of old infrastructure, lines and equipments, with poor repair
and maintenance
Poor High Tension : Low Tension ratio
Poor power factor due to insufficient capacitors

Photo: Published 13th Oct 2006,

The Hindu Business Line
Commercial Losses:
The commercial losses are caused by theft & pilferage of electricity, defective meters, tampering &
errors in meter reading and in estimating unmetered supply of energy. Low metering/billing/collection
efficiency and lack of accountability of employees.
One of the main reasons for losses in the sector is low investment in the T&D in comparison to the generation;
the ideal ratio should be 1:1.

Initiatives taken for prevention and cure

Legal Framework: The anti-theft provisions in electricity act- 2003 (sec: 135-137, 153) provides a legal
framework for making theft of electricity a cognizable offence.
Profit centres: 13 SEBs/EDs have been unbundled & corporatized and made Profit centres. 9 more are expected
Franchisees: for efficient billing and collection & maintenance: Adopted With different models in Assam,
Karnataka, Orissa & Nagaland and under active consideration of Andhra, Gujarat, Bihar, W. Bengal.
Privatisation: Delhi & Orissa. Uttar Pradesh has invited EOIs.
Investments in High Voltage Distribution System (HVDS) for preventing theft and pilferage, better power

2) KPMG report titled White Paper on Implementation Challenges and Opportunities
3) The Hindu Business Line, 13th Oct 2006
4) World bank indicator data taken from