June 2012 | Sujata Agrawal

Looking far

Praveer Sinha, managing director,  Tata Power Delhi Distribution (TPDDL) talks to Sujata Agrawal about the challenge of taking TPDDL to the next level.
What was the reason for changing the name of the company from North Delhi Power to Tata Power Delhi Distribution (TPDDL)?
There were two reasons: The first was to iterate the ‘Tata’ brand value and reinforce our brand commitment to consumers; the second was to assert our achievements and claim value for ourselves in terms of technology and domain expertise.
Going forward, what do you see as the challenges facing TPDDL?
I think the biggest challenge is in growing the company. Delhi is saturated; there is only this much you can do. We have reduced the AT&C losses by more than 70 percent and now reducing even 0.5 percent each year will be extremely difficult.
Alongside, it is a huge challenge to get other state governments to adopt the Delhi model of public-private partnerships. It has been done in Mumbai and Ahmedabad, and the quality of power supply in those cities is fantastic. That said, there’s an opportunity to work with state electricity boards, almost all of which are making huge losses. The situation has to change.
What are your plans for the future?
A decade is quite a milestone in any business. I think the time has come for the company to consolidate and move ahead; we need to look beyond and outside what we are currently doing. We have a large workforce and to keep them motivated it is necessary for us to look for new opportunities. In the last 10 years, TPDDL has created many innovative features and services, some of which are not seen even in the most advanced countries. So we are exploring how we can utilise our learnings to expand to other cities in India and abroad too.
The difficulty is that the power distribution business is controlled by the government; until it is fully privatised, changed to a public-private partnership or a franchisee model, it will be problematic for us to expand in India. We are working with a few state governments on small projects such as providing training for people and assisting with billing software and other systems. The revenues in such consulting are small; it does not satisfy our appetite.
It is imperative that we also look at opportunities abroad, and that is why we have set up a subsidiary company, NDPL Infra, which will explore these business opportunities.
Could you tell us about your overseas plans?
We have bid for various jobs in a few countries abroad. In Nigeria, where we are already working with the government and a Nigerian distribution company, we have been shortlisted to provide consultancy on the distribution system and the privatisation of distribution; this project has been on for about a year. Apart from this, we are looking at Turkey, Kosovo and some of the East European and African countries.

This article was a part of the cover story on Tata Power Delhi Distribution featured in the June 2012 issue of the Tata Review. Follow the links below to go to the other articles that were a part of this cover story:

Simple steps of a complex dance, the TPDDL story
Interview with Sheila Dikshit, chief minister of Delhi

Interview with Anil Sardana, managing director, Tata Power

Interview with Praveen K Tripathi, chief secretary of Delhi