India power tariffs could rise 62-93 paise/kWh -power minister

NEW DELHI, Jan 2 (Reuters) - Electricity tariffs across India are expected to rise by 62 to 93 paise ($0.0098-$0.0146) per kilowatt-hour (kWh) during the first year of upgrades to coal-fired power plants, Power Minister R.K. Singh told lawmakers on Tuesday.

The estimate of tariff increases of up to nearly 20 percent on average power fees comes amid rising levels of smog in the capital and other major cities, which has put pressure on the government and generators to tackle a growing public health crisis.

Power tariffs are a politically sensitive issue in India, where more than three quarters of the electricity is generated by coal-fired power plants. The average power tariff in India is around 5 rupees per kWh.

Reuters reported in November that India was considering letting power companies pass on costs of installing emission-cutting equipment to consumers.

India, which is looking to facilitate loans to power producers through state-run financial institutions to fund one-time costs, aims to make all coal-fired power plants comply with emission-cutting norms by 2022, Central Electrical Authority (CEA) Chairman Ravindra Kumar Verma told Reuters in November.

CEA has prepared a phase-in plan for implementing new environmental norms to ensure minimum disruption while plants are shut down for retrofitting, Singh told the upper house of India’s parliament in a written reply.

Thermal power companies account for 80 percent of all industrial emissions of lung-damaging particulate matter, sulphur and nitrous oxides in India.

$1 = 63.5300 Indian rupees Reporting by Sudarshan Varadhan; Editing by Tom Hogue