The “India Consumer Perceptions on Renewable Energy Survey,” conducted by Mercom Communications India, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Mercom Capital Group, llc, a global communications and consulting firm, focused on gauging people’s and businesses’ perception and attitudes toward non-conventional sources of energy in India. Over 1,700 residential and commercial and industrial customers were surveyed.

Almost 93 percent of the businesses Mercom surveyed indicated that power cuts have either a moderate or major effect on their business. Only 7 percent of surveyed businesses said power cuts had no effect on their business.

Businesses in India have struggled with power shortages, which increase the cost of doing business. Because of the need to invest in backup generation, it is difficult to compete with foreign businesses that do not have costs associated with power shortage issues.

Several factors have contributed to higher inflation and slower GDP growth in India over the last several years – one of them is power supply shortages.

Utilities in some states have resorted to cutting power instead of increasing generation or importing power from other states. According to utilities, importing power is expensive.

Cutting power becomes the easy way out for utilities because they face no pressure from industries which see the situation as “business as usual.” This result erases any doubt to the impact power cuts have on businesses large and small.

This is a significant finding and a wake-up call to policymakers. It demonstrates that improving the power shortage situation is urgently needed if we want to see greater economic growth and job creation.

Over the years, India has never been able to meet its power generation targets through conventional sources. Coal has not been able to solve the energy problem.

Renewable sources of energy must be added to the mix quickly to ramp up generation to meet the power needs of businesses.

About 65 percent of surveyed businesses said they currently have a backup diesel generator in place to run their business when there is a power loss. Of those surveyed who didn’t have a backup generator, 22 percent said they were considering one.

Peak shortage is a critical problem and industries are stifled by power shortages and expensive back-up generation. As diesel rates move toward a market-based price, solar power prices are looking extremely attractive especially during peak times.

In a surprising finding, almost 74 percent of commercial survey respondents said consistent power without cuts was more important to them than price, while 26 percent said they would prefer cheaper power.

Sixty percent of residential survey respondents also said consistent power without cuts was more important to them, and 40 percent said they would prefer cheaper power.

This important finding diminishes the rationale taken by state governments and utilities of not increasing power prices to reflect market-based pricing. When you ask businesses and people on the ground who create jobs, the reality is very different. They want power to run their dry cleaning shops, software businesses, small manufacturing units of all kinds, mom-and-pop shops, and many more. People want electricity in their homes for obvious reasons: cooking, reading/studying, watching TV, listening to music, etc. People and businesses acknowledge and accept that they have to pay more for the service; power is not a privilege anymore – it is a necessity closely tied to economic progress.

To get an online version of this survey, click here:

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