Trying to get US investments in power sector: Minister

New Delhi, April 22 (IANS) The government on Friday said that it might get leading US investors to invest in India’s power sector.

According to the Minister for Coal, Power and New and Renewable Energy Piyush Goyal, the government is trying to rope in major US based investors like the Blackstone Group to invest in the country’s power sector.

Goyal, who is on an official tour to the US, disclosed the information on the micro blogging site Twitter.

“@PiyushGoyal may get leading US investors-Blackstone Group, Warburg Pincus n others 2 invest in India’s power sector,” Goyal tweeted.

On Thursday, the minister informed that state-run Energy Efficiency Services (EESL) will open it’s 21st overseas office in New York in the near future.

“We will go back by the weekend and my office will get cracking with the EESL on Monday to set the ball rolling on EESL’s US chapter,” Goyal said.

“There was huge enthusiasm shown by the Green Bank and the Energy Council of the US earlier in the day during my meetings with them,” the minister spoke at the Renewable Energy Investors Roundtable.

The roundtable was co-hosted by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the US India Business Council in New York on Thursday.

The move assumes significance as India will take EESL to the US to share innovative ways to mainstream energy efficiency, primarily on the back of economies of scale and transparent procurement.

“The pricing of LED bulbs in India has been a game changer with prices falling by over 83 percent in one year,” the minister said in a statement.

Currently, EESL has completed distribution of five crore LED bulbs under its Domestic Efficient Lighting Program.

Responding to investors queries on the volatility of the exchange rate and the need to address the hedging issue, Goyal said: “I am open to an earlier proposal of linking the debt to a basket of currencies including the US dollar (USD), the Japanese Yen (JPY) or even options like inflation linked tariffs to cover hedging risk.”

He, however, pointed out that the Indian rupee has been relatively strong over a long term and will be one of the strongest currencies given India’s growth potential.

In addition, Goyal said that other issues like the need for a stable and simplified policy and regulatory regime; standardised PPAs (power purchase agreement) and equipment standardisation were discussed during his visit to the UK and the US.

Further, Goyal projected India’s growth to be in double digits by next year, if not this fiscal itself.

Besides, the minister called upon natural gas producers to explore investment opportunities in India.

“India is willing to take gas for its gas based power projects and sign long term contracts of 10-15 years but this can be done at a fixed price of $5 per/mmbtu as the power sector is a price sensitive sector in the country,” Goyal said.

“With about 28 GW of stranded gas assets in the country, this is a huge and promising market as long as the prices are right and given the current Baltic index, I believe that this is a viable proposition.”

He further added that India is currently exploring all means of gasification including coalbed methane.

The union minister also talked about the ‘Make in India’ initiative, about which he said: “To incentivise manufacturing in solar, the government is exploring options of long term power contracts and long term land lease contracts for solar manufacturers.”

The minister reiterated India’s position for just climate action and re-emphasised that Indians and India need to get their chance to develop.

“India cannot be held responsible for the emissions although India believes in being a responsible global citizen and doing its part,” the minister added.

–IANS

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