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The government is open to amending the Electricity Act 2003 and sorting out issues related to quality and transportation of coal in an attempt to fast-track power reforms, Piyush Goyal stressed on Friday as he led a dozen top bureaucrats from the ministries of power, coal, and new and renewable energy under his charge to Gujarat for a day to learn from the state's stellar performance in the sector.
"Goyal emphasised on amendments to the Electricity Act as soon as possible to help the sector tackle grid connectivity and power transmission issues," said a senior official, who was present at the meeting that lasted from 11:45 am to 4:30 pm, breaking for just an hour-long lunch, at the new sachivalaya building in Gandhinagar.
It was an interactive session, with state government officials sharing achievements and concerns of Gujarat while Goyal's team took a look at both, said the official, who did not wish to be identified. The official added that the Gujarat officials requested the Goyal-led group to sort out the state's conflicts with the public sector monopoly miner Coal India while the minister expressed his interest in replicating the state's Jyotigram Yojna for rural electrification across the country.
Goyal also hinted at possible changes in the Renewable Purchase Obligation ( RPO) of the states to promote renewable energy, the official said.
ET had on Friday reported that the government might expand the scope of the Electricity Act to push for higher utilisation of renewable energy and that the power ministry was keen to fast-track rural electrification projects.
After the meeting, Goyal said that he and his officials had a fruitful session with the brass of Gujarat's electricity sector. The Centre's priority is to eliminate bottlenecks in decision-making and ensure supply of reliable power to all, the minister told the media.
Following the meet, Gujarat's energy and petrochemicals minister Saurabh Patel wrote on microblogging site Twitter, "Discussed what Gujarat did in power sector in the last 10 years with Shri Piyush Goyal. Also discussed issues with GoI."
Patel had promptly invited Goyal after the latter expressed interest in learning from the 'Gujarat model'.
During the previous UPA government, the governments at the Centre and Gujarat remained at loggerheads over issues such as coal allocation and trade of surplus solar power. Former power minister Jyotiraditya Scindia had even cancelled felicitation of officers of Gujarat's power sector that emerged as most creditworthy in the country two years in a row. However, with the BJP-led NDA government in place, Gujarat is hoping for a mutually productive relationship with the Centre.
On Friday, Goyal was the only minister who was not present at the Lok Sabha session that was held for appointing the Speaker.
Goyal expressed his intention to keep all the three key energy sectors in tandem. "He enquired about synchronising renewable energy with the grid and what kind of transmission infrastructure needs to be in place for the same. For steady growth of the clean energy sector, the minister proposed immediate amendments to the Electricity Act to make way for better alignment of renewable power and its purchase obligation," said the official cited earlier.
The group from the Centre also included an official from Coal India that lost a crucial case against Gujarat before the Competition Commission of India. The competition watchdog held Coal India guilty of abusing its monopoly and slapped a fine of Rs 1,773 crore after the utilities of Gujarat and Maharashtra challenged the mining giant.
The minister also discussed the government's 'Green Corridor' project which aims to construct an alternative transmission infrastructure for renewable power. "The minister studied the working of the distribution companies in Gujarat and how they were able to turn around their profits while maintaining good supply of power. The state has shown success in installing large-scale renewable projects as well. He took cues from it as well," said a senior official.
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