Distribution companies (DISCOMs) owed ₹124.2 billion (~$1.66 billion) to renewable energy generators (excluding disputed amounts) in overdue payments across 193 pending invoices at the end of May 2021, according to data released by the Ministry of Power (MoP).

The figures were marginally higher than ₹113.34 billion (~$1.52 billion) (excluding disputed amounts) spread over 200 pending invoices at the end of April 2021.

According to the data released by the MoP’s payment ratification and analysis portal (PRAAPTI), the outstanding payments (excluding disputed amounts) to renewable generators stood at ₹8.69 billion (~$116.63 million) at the end of May 2021. Outstanding payments are sums that have been delayed by more than six months.

To make the DISCOMs accountable and fulfill their obligations, the MoP issued new regulations for the late payment surcharge, which will be applicable for power purchase agreements and transmission service agreements in which the tariffs have been determined through competitive bidding. According to the notification, a DISCOM with a late payment surcharge outstanding against a bill after the expiry of seven months from the due date will be debarred from procuring power from a power exchange or grant of short-term open access until the bill is paid.

The DISCOMs paid nearly ₹25.74 billion (~$345.48 million) in outstanding amounts and ₹83.61 billion (~$1.12 billion) in overdue amounts, decreasing 8% and 12%, respectively, when compared to the April figures.

According to the data released by the portal, the overdue amount to power generators at the end of the month stood at ₹682.35 billion (~$9.15 billion), a decrease of 0.1%, and the outstanding amount at the end of the month was ₹133.84 billion (~$1.79 billion), an increase of 4%.

Among the states, Tamil Nadu had the highest backlog with an overdue amount of ₹139.52 billion (~$1.87 billion), followed closely by Rajasthan with an overdue amount of ₹107.90 billion (~$1.45 billion).

In terms of ease of payments by DISCOMs, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Telangana, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Meghalaya, and Jammu and Kashmir remained at the bottom rung. Some of the best-performing states for the month were Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Bihar, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Tripura, Kerala, Goa, Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Uttarakhand, and Himachal Pradesh.

Non-conventional energy generators to whom the DISCOMs owed most included Tata Power Company, Adani Green Energy, and NLC India with ₹25.55 billion (~$342.93 million), ₹16.34 billion (~$219.32 million), and ₹9.93 billion (~$133.28 million), respectively.

Recently, the Union Cabinet approved the reforms-based and results-linked revamped distribution sector program. The program aims to improve the operational efficiencies and financial sustainability of DISCOMs and power departments (excluding private sector DISCOMs) by providing conditional financial assistance to DISCOMs to strengthen supply infrastructure. The program will have an outlay of ₹3.03 trillion (~$40.89 billion) with an estimated gross budgetary support of ₹976.31 billion (~$13.13 billion) from the central government.