India plans to amend the Electricity Act for private investors to set up charging stations for electric vehicles as the government pushes to cut reliance on fossil fuels to check import bill and reduce emissions.
A power distribution company can only sell electricity in India, according to the 2013 law. That’s a technical hurdle to build charging infrastructure in the country for electric cars.
“We are going to provide deemed distribution licences for those who want to set up charging stations. The Electricity Act will be amended,” RK Singh, minister of state for power, new and renewable energy, told BloombergQuint on the sidelines of an event in New Delhi today. “Let the other amendments also come. We will discuss it with states and then will bring it to the Ministry of Law.”
The charging infrastructure for electric vehicles is part of the government’s push to make all cars electric by 2030. It has already floated a tender for 10,000 battery-powered sedans. Tata Motors Ltd. and Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd. will provide the first 500 of them.
Leaving the charging infrastructure business to private investors will bring in a lot of reliability and competition, Awadhesh Kumar Jha, vice-president at Charge & Drive & Sustainability, Fortum India, told BloombergQuint in an interview. It should be treated as a service and not sale of electricity, he said.
Niti Aayog is the nodal agency for drafting rules for electric vehicle charging stations. “They are working on it and respective ministries will follow whatever rules they make,” Ajay Kumar Bhalla, secretary at the Ministry of Power, said.
PK Pujari, former secretary at the ministry, said the regulator doesn’t need to necessarily grant the licence. “A discom could be the authority to issue such licences on certain conditions. The discoms will also have to fix a tariff such that charges can be recovered from users.”
The Electricity Amendment Bill, 2014 is pending in Lok Sabha since December 2014. It’s likely to come up in the upcoming winter session in Parliament.