Citizens' Issues
Ambitious solar power projects need all round support!
Solar power industry faces several issues like land acquisition costs; power evacuation; high cost of capital; continued muted interest from investors and dealing with bankrupt state-run distribution companies. In addition, to the usual transmission losses and pilferage, which is ‘normal’ in this industry!
Recently, while meeting foreign investors and a group of industry executives, it is reported in the press, that Piyush Goyal, Union Minister for Power, Coal and Renewable Energy, appears to have stated that from the current production of one trillion units of energy, India would be able to double it up and have a surplus, by 2019! As at December, according to available information, India's total renewable energy installed capacity is 33,792 MW. And the government has set an ambitious target of reaching 175,000 MW of energy through renewable energy sources, latest by 2022.
It appears that guidelines have already been issued for setting up 25 solar parks, each with a 500 MW capacity, across the country. Industry estimates that as much as Rs250,000 crore investment would be needed to reach such ambitious targets.
At the moment, 32,000 MW of thermal capacity is over 25 years old and the government was encouraging to phase them out by capacity expansion at the same location with super critical power units. Other plans include the revival of 14,000 MW of gas-based power units, which closed for lack of gas, will now be revived, according to the minister.
In the Re-invest 2015 investors meet, according to the press reports, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was given assurances by members present for creating huge energy capacity in the country. For instance, First Solar, the US based Solar power project developer, assured the PM that they will first set up a 5000 MW green energy projects in India by 2019.  It may be noted that, recently, Apple Inc committed $848 million to buy solar electricity from this company for the next 25 years - this being one of the largest commercial deals in the solar sector. Their interest in India opens up new opportunities for developments in the country.
Apart from the foreign investors, many Indian corporations have shown renewed interest in the development of solar and other renewable energy sources.  Adani Enterprise, for instance, has signed a memorandum of understating (MoU) with the Rajasthan Government for developing solar parks with a total capacity of 10,000 MW in 10 years, but the first 5000 MW will be set up in the first five years.  At the same time, Adani Enterprise has signed another MoU with US based SunEdison Inc to jointly invest $4 billion for setting up India's largest photo-voltaic making plant at Mundhra in Gujarat.
In the meantime, the Union Cabinet is reported to have cleared the setting up of a 15,000 MW of grid-connected solar power project through NTPC through its subsidiary NTPC Vidyut Vypar Nigam Ltd (NVVN). With the active support of Solar Energy Corporation of India, the Madhya Pradesh Government is setting up the world's largest solar power plant. Its power generating capacity will be 750 MW. It is estimated to cost Rs4,500 crore and it will soon be able to produce power at Rs5 per unit, lower than any other project in the country!
But the solar power industry in the country is facing various challenges.  Rama Bethmangalkar of VenturEast, an Indian venture capital company, which has invested in renewable energy companies, points out the difficulties faced by the industry including land acquisition costs; power evacuation; high cost of capital; continued muted interest from equity investors and dealing with bankrupt state owned distribution companies. In addition, to these, there are the usual transmission losses and pilferage which is ‘normal’ in this industry!
In order to encourage the growth and meet the needs of the consumers, it is essential that the government seriously looks into the issues of cheaper credit so as to access low cost funds for development. If necessary, the government may stipulate a minimum economically viable solar power plant capacity that may be allowed to issue tax free bonds and competitive rates for linking into national power grids for distribution.
One of the most successful solar power generation programmes can be derived by designing small scale units that can be sold to individual house owners, setting them up on their roof tops, and offering a link to the state grid, so that the excess power can be made available to others. When such a compact unit can be designed, at competitive rate, India will have surplus power - not before!
(AK Ramdas has worked with the Engineering Export Promotion Council of the ministry of commerce. He was also associated with various committees of the Council. His international career took him to places like Beirut, Kuwait and Dubai at a time when these were small trading outposts; and later to the US.)




2 years ago

the theft of electricity is a common feature in our country and this happens with the convenience of the electricity boards across the country. Private players may loot the consumers but they will not allow inefficiency and theft.

Alleged Patient Safety Kickbacks Lead To $1 Million Settlement
The US Justice Department claimed patient safety celebrity Dr Chuck Denham solicited payments from a drug company to win a prestigious National Quality Forum endorsement for its product
Dr. Chuck Denham, once a leading voice for patient safety, will pay $1 million to settle civil allegations that he took kickbacks to promote a drug company's product in national health quality guidelines, the Justice Department announced Monday.
Denham, a patient safety consultant from Laguna Beach, Calif., had allegedly solicited and accepted monthly payments from CareFusion Corp., maker of the antiseptic ChloraPrep, while serving as co-chairman of a National Quality Forum committee in 2009 and 2010.
The nonprofit quality forum in Washington, D.C., reviews evidence and makes recommendations on best practices that are considered the gold-standard by health care providers nationwide.
ProPublica previously reported that Denham hadn't disclosed the payments to the panel of experts he was leading for the forum, and that other members of the Safe Practices Committee had not intended to endorse ChloraPrep. But Denham had advocated for the drug during the group's meetings.
The committee's final report recommended the product's formulation to prevent infections, ProPublica found.
"Kickback schemes undermine the integrity of medical decisions, subvert the health marketplace and waste taxpayer dollars," said Benjamin C. Mizer, acting assistant attorney for the Justice Department's civil division, in a news release announcing the settlement.
According to the Justice Department, the kickbacks to Denham caused the submission of false or fraudulent claims for ChloraPrep to the government's health care programs. As part of the settlement, Denham will be excluded from participating in Medicare and Medicaid programs.
"Quality and patient safety must drive all medical recommendations," said Inspector General Daniel R. Levinson of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Inspector General. "Doctors that put profits ahead of this core value must be held accountable."
Neither CareFusion nor Denham, who runs the consulting company Health Care Concepts and the research organization Texas Medical Institute of Technology, returned calls for comment.
Denham did not admit to wrongdoing as part of the settlement. He previously denied any wrongdoing, saying his company had legitimate contracts for $11.6 million starting in 2008 with Cardinal Health, the parent company of CareFusion.
Denham had enjoyed star status in the patient safety world until January 2014, when the Justice Department first alleged an improper relationship involving his work with CareFusion. He was beloved by patient advocates, a regular on the conference speaking circuit and produced a documentary with actor Dennis Quaid, whose newborn twins had suffered a medication error.
After the kickback allegations, he was removed as editor of the Journal of Patient Safety, where an expert review found conflicts of interest. Denham's downfall has been called the patient safety movement's first scandal.


What Mobile Carriers Are Really Saying in Their Ads
Digging into the fine print and details behind four recent ads in the US
The mobile phone world is a murky place. There’s the barrage of monthly charges, a baffling array of conditions, and techy terms that are truly confusing. For example, do you know the difference between a line and a phone? Because there is one. 
In the spirit of National Consumer Protection Week, we thought we’d try to help sort it all out by breaking down some recent ads from the top four mobile carriers and detailing their teeny tiny fine print that you may or may not catch as it rolls by in nanoseconds in the commercials. Our analysis is two-fold: What the ad says and the reality of that message.



What the ad says: Verizon and AT&T customers can switch to Sprint and their new mobile carrier will “cut your bill in half.”
The reality: Sprint will only cut your rate plan in half, which is the service costs of the bill. Additionally, the deal does not include the cost of actual phones that you must lease or buy from Sprint. Even Sprint’s CFO Joe Enteneuer admitted its savings promise amounts to “… probably getting a 20 percent sort of net discount.”


What the ad says: “Now, get three lines for $120 a month with rollover data to share.”
The reality: In short, you will end up paying more than $120 a month. That’s because lines are not phones but rather access to a plan and the $120 does not include the monthly device payments you must make for each phone on the plan. So be ready to tack on that additional cost to your monthly bill.



What the ad says: “2 lines with 6GB for $100 monthly access”

The reality: Disclosing the cost for monthly line access while burying in the fine print that you will have to pay for phones to get that price — where have we seen this before? Just like with AT&T, Verizon makes you purchase phones through a monthly payment program in order to get the advertised line access rate. And what does that do? Say it with us: It increases your monthly bill.



What the ad says: “Keep your unused data up to a year.”
The reality: “Data Stash” is only available to T-Mobile customers who purchase 3GB or more of 4G LTE data. That’s what “Qualifying plan req’d” means. So smartphone users who don’t use much data reap no reward.
Click here for more of our coverage on smartphones. 


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