Wielding Power in the Capital: The Case of the Delhi Electricity Distribution Sector

By Megha Kaladharan
Regulatory Assistance Project
28 April 2017

This study of electricity governance in Delhi, India, is one in a series of working papers produced for the Mapping Power project, a collaboration between RAP and the Centre for Policy Research in Delhi. It explores regulatory trends in Delhi’s privatised power distribution sector over the past few decades. While privatization brought in noticeable improvement in the infrastructure and quality of power delivery, the sector also met with roadblocks in the form of consumer protests over escalating tariffs and allegations of financial irregularity within the distribution companies on one end, and the high cost of power purchase and mounting regulatory assets of distribution companies on the other. The paper tracks watershed events in Delhi’s electricity sector from the early impetus for reform to factors that contributed to fomenting a sectoral crisis, as well as recent innovations, such as the push for solar rooftop and demand-side management. Given that electricity is prioritised on the election agenda in Delhi, the paper also aims to understand the ways in which the politics of the time are mirrored in the sector and the functioning of the regulator.