PGCIL arm to be hived off as grid operator

Business

In a major move, the government has formally begun the process of separating the national grid operator Power System Operation Corporation Ltd (POSOCO) from state-owned transmission utility Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd (PGCIL).

POSOCO currently operates as just a subsidiary of PGCIL, instead of being an independent grid manager.

Power Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia indicated here on Tuesday that the process of separating POSOCO from PGCIL would be achieved over the next one year.

Coming in the wake of the two successive grid collapses in end-July, the move would enable POSOCO, which is entrusted with the task of running one of the largest synchronous interconnections in the world, to function as a separate company something that will offer functional autonomy to the utility, freedom to recruit staff and payment of higher pay scales. POSOCO is to be designated as a 'Schedule A' company with a not-for-profit objective, with the load despatch functions that were being earlier handled by PGCIL, now slated to come under POSOCO after the separation of roles.

In mid-November, The Indian Express had reported that POSOCO continued to be grossly short-staffed, with 120-odd vacancies unfilled at that point in time. Hiring for these positions, which included some junior level posts, was simply "not being prioritised" as POSOCO was not being run as an independent entity, a government official had said.

After it is floated as an independent entity, POSOCO will have under it the NLDC (national load despatch centre) and the 5 RLDCs (regional load despatch centres) and its job will entail the monitoring of the various SLDCs (state load despatch centres), along with the task of overseeing cross-border trade and coordination with the power exchanges.

"Since POSOCO handles transmission congestion inadequacies on the regular basis, it is therefore logical that the function of the CTU (central transmission utility) is also assigned to POSOCO," a senior Ministry of Power official said. Analysts have cited the trend of not filling up vacancies at POSOCO on priority as worrying, considering that the lack of adequate and timely interventions to curb overdrawing by northern region states was cited as one of the key reasons for the consecutive grid failures that took place on July 30 and 31, 2012.

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