The power sector is widely viewed as one of the biggest constraints on India’s economic growth. Almost half of power drawn from the grid is not paid for and is unmetered, unbilled or pilfered. In the state of Bihar, 45 percent of power consumed falls in this category. Working with the state-owned electricity distribution company in India’s Bihar, EPIC-India researchers in collaboration with J-PAL SA are testing an innovative group collective incentive program that links the amount of electricity supplied to groups of industrial and residential consumers to their overall performance in paying for the electricity they consume.
As the proportion of paid electricity increases, the hours of electricity supplied to that community also increases. The implementing partners (North and South Bihar Power Distribution Company Ltd) have both shown strong interest in scaling up the study from the eight study districts to the rest of Bihar. While we work on analyzing data (primary and administrative) from the study, the distribution companies have expressed interest in continuing to implement and monitor RLSS themselves in our study districts. Since May 2018, our team has been assisting the them closely in achieving this.
EPIC-India researchers are also using data from Maharashtra on distribution losses from the entire electricity grid and linking this with socio-economic data on the characteristics of different communities to study. This work reveals the impact of collective incentives on payment behaviors, utility revenues and electricity supply.
This project is supported by Governance Initiative (GI), International Growth Centre (IGC), Urban Services Initiative (USI), PEDL and the Tata Centre for Development at UChicago