Nu 8.35 per unit for imported electricity? That is the price we pay when our generations are down and domestic demand is high. When we have enough, what we export is at the cheapest rate in the region.
Electricity is good for India when the country needs it. Demand soars with the rise in mercury and our cheap export helps to fill in the shortage. It should be good when we need it.
Prices could be determined by power trading companies. Electricity is purchased from the Day Ahead Market of the Indian Energy Exchange through a competitive bidding process where prices are determined by demand. With increase in demand for power both in India and at home, prices are expected to rise again. Considering the rate at which we export, trading especially import rate is a raw deal.
Electricity still is Bhutan’s biggest export. Balance of trade with India even with electricity is in the negative. Add on this the power imported at double the highest export rate and we will see how balanced it would be. The ripple effect is on the already scarce INR in the country.
The projection is 500million units by mid of April. Given the uncertain hydrology and increased domestic demand, it will hit the government coffer hard. It has not snowed this winter and the monsoon is increasingly becoming erratic. While Bhutan should, like officials said, look for alternatives like smaller and easier to build projects, our friendly ties and good relation with India could help us ease the burden.
India today is focusing on establishing its name on the global blackboard as the leader of solar energy production. The hydro projects that the country is investing in are just for strategic significance. For Bhutan, India will forever be our dear friend. Fair trade must exist between India and Bhutan. This is where the good relations we have should come in.
Why must power import and export rates be so vastly different if the two good neighbours have worked out mutually-beneficial agreements? Bhutan looks at India as an equal partner. We have gone up to the space together and are planning to collaborate in the education sector beyond small exchanges between universities and experts. The economies are evolving so rapidly that they sometimes tend to disbalance traditional good ties.
An early monsoon could help us reduce imports. But it is no consolation and the concerns of hefty power import bills should not be forgotten once the river swells or temperature rises in Bhutan.