Given the low levels of electricity access in rural India, the poor quality of supply post electrification (electricity connection) is an often-neglected issue. The definition of electrification has traditionally focused on physical wire to the home, but not delivery of service. Frequent supply outages have a significant impact on the quality of life of rural households and on the economic development of rural areas. Using a rich dataset of the Bangalore Electricity Supply Company (BESCOM) utilizing the state-level SCADA system (from KPTCL, the TransCo), this paper analyzes supply rostering (‘load shedding’) in metropolitan, small town and rural feeders in and around Bangalore, the capital city of Karnataka in south India using multiple days of data across 3 seasons during 2012-13. The inequity in load shedding is analyzed through calculated transfers due to differential tariffs between the urban and rural residential consumers, and the financial (supply-side) relief provided to BESCOM through avoided procurement of additional supply from generators, because rural and small town feeders are load shed higher than Bangalore city. This factors in the higher costs of supply and losses in rural areas, but avoids calculations for value of lost power or opportunity costs.
The estimates of the load shedding transfers are in the range of Rs. 120-380/consumer-year from the rural consumers (varying based on the actual load-shedding), and Rs. 220-370/consumer-year from the small town consumers (in aggregate, Rs. 200-640 million/year and Rs, 120-200 million/year, respectively). The metropolitan consumers are found to be net beneficiaries. Recognizing the revenue shortfalls of the utility (BESCOM) and lack of generation supply procurement options, we end with an examination of alternatives to the status quo and demonstrate the viability of current limited supply using smart meters as a solution.