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

Project Partners

North Bihar Power Distribution Company

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South Bihar Power Distribution Company

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South Bihar Power Distribution Company Ltd(SBPDCL) has beengiven the status of a Distribution Licensee as per Section 14 of the ElectricityAct 2003 and engaged primarily in the business of distribution of Electricity andis serving more than 18 lacs consumers in 17 districts of South Bihar. Presently, we are providing uninterrupted power supply in PESU, Area, Patna i.eCapital of Bihar and also providing 18-20 Hrs assured powersupply in the entire17 district HQ of South Bihar.

NITI AAYOG

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The National Institution for Transforming India, also called NITI Aayog, was formed via a resolution of the Union Cabinet on January 1, 2015. NITI Aayog is the premier policy ‘Think Tank’ of the Government of India, providing both directional and policy inputs. While designing strategic and long term policies and programmes for the Government of India, NITI Aayog also provides relevant technical advice to the Centre and States. The Government of India, in keeping with its reform agenda, constituted the NITI Aayog to replace the Planning Commission instituted in 1950. This was done in order to better serve the needs and aspirations of the people of India. An important evolutionary change from the past, NITI Aayog acts as the quintessential platform of the Government of India to bring States to act together in national interest, and thereby fosters Cooperative Federalism. At the core of NITI Aayog’s creation are two hubs – Team India Hub and the Knowledge and Innovation Hub. The Team India Hub leads the engagement of states with the Central government, while the Knowledge and Innovation Hub builds NITI’s think-tank capabilities. These hubs reflect the two key tasks of the Aayog.

EPIC-India and the National Institution for Transforming India (NITI), the government of India’s premier think tank have signed a Statement of Intent (SoI) to work on issues of electricity sector reform, energy modeling and energy and environmental policy analysis. As NITI AAYOG provides policy inputs across all of India’s ministries, this partnership provides EPIC with an ideal knowledge platform to share and exchange its policy findings. EPIC-India’s projects with NITI AAYOG include an ambitious platform to roll out innovations in electricity distribution reform, arising from research in Bihar, to other parts of the country. Additionally, following the success of NITI AAYOG’s national energy planning tool EPIC-India along with NITI AAYOG is helping three Indian states develop an overarching energy and environment planning tool at a sub-national level.

Tata Centre for Development at UChicago

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The Tata Centre for Development at UChicago develops innovative, integrated approaches to tackling some of India’s most pressing development issues. With generous support from the Tata Trusts, the Tata Centre combines implementation, research and executive education to execute ambitious pilots, evaluate new solutions, and spread insights to key decision-makers who can translate research findings and successful pilots into wider impact. The Centre is housed at the Harris School of Public Policy in Chicago and the University of Chicago Trust in India.

The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL)

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The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) was established in 2003 as a research center at MIT’s Department of Economics. Since then, it has built a global network of 113 affiliated professors and regional offices in Africa, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, North America, South Asia, and Southeast Asia. J-PAL’s mission is to reduce poverty by ensuring that policy is informed by scientific evidence. It does this by working with governments, non-profits, foundations and other development organizations to conduct rigorous impact evaluations in the field, policy outreach to widely disseminate the lessons from research, and building the capacity of practitioners to generate and use evidence. Over 200 million people have been reached by the scale-up of programs evaluated by J-PAL and found to be effective. Find J-PAL on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube.