Indian Central and State Electricity Regulatory Commissions (CERC and SERCs) have issued policies and regulations to promote renewable and energy efficiency, but the level of implementation varies widely and support from utilities is often weak.
Civil society has the potential to act as a locomotive, both pressuring and supporting regulators in the implementation of RE/EE programmes. This project aimed to empower civil society and consumer groups to participate in both state and federal level regulatory processes in India, and to demand ambitious RE/EE regulations, coupled with their effective implementation by utilities. The concrete purpose of the project was to enhance the understanding of barriers to participation in the regulatory process by civil society organisations (CSOs) and to disseminate the findings to relevant stakeholders.
The project implementation partner engaged with electricity regulators and stakeholders in six states and reviewed the processes through which the SERCs designed and implemented RE and EE programmes. They also assessed the level of engagement and the role of civil society and looked into the reasons why the programmes succeeded or failed. The main purposes as described above were achieved, and the project was deemed a success.
The project found that civil society has an important role to play in the regulatory process for renewable energy and energy efficiency, both in pushing for more ambitious action and as a watchdog to prevent corruption. It also found that more effective monitoring of renewable energy projects is necessary, to make the environmental and social impacts more understood and to address the scepticism among some CSOs with regards to clean energy technology in general. Finally, the project posed that CSOs cannot get involved in the regulatory process if they do not have access to significant technical and legal expertise, for which the organisations will require support from experts in the field and donor agencies. Therefore, before any concrete impacts will be seen, a lot more on-the-ground work and in-person engagement with stakeholders will be necessary. As mobilising civil society in a single short project is not possible, this project was implemented as part of a larger ongoing initiative managed by the World Resources Institute, the Electricity Governance Initiative. As part of this larger initiative, the project could build on previous efforts, and enable follow-up projects to employ lessons learned.