July 16, 2020 / 10:21 AM / a month ago

RPT-UPDATE 1-India's electricity output recovers faster in first half of July

(Updates with graphic links. Repeats item, no change to text)

By Sudarshan Varadhan

CHENNAI, July 16 (Reuters) - India’s electricity generation during the first half of July fell at a slower pace than in June, provisional government data showed, as industries and commercial establishments gradually opened up with the easing of coronavirus lockdowns.

Power generation fell 3.1% in the first 15 days of July compared with the same period last year, a Reuters analysis of daily load despatch data from federal grid operator POSOCO showed, compared with a 9.9% fall in June.

In the second half of June, electricity generation declined 5.3%.

While power use has picked up from previous months when India was under a strict lockdown, electricity demand - which is impacted by seasonal changes - is still lower when compared with the same periods in previous year.

Industries and offices account for more than half of India’s annual power use. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been citing electricity consumption to show there are “green shoots” in the economy.

Major industrial states such as Maharashtra, Gujarat in the west and Tamil Nadu in the south continued to see steep drops in electricity use amid more serious outbreaks of the coronavirus.

However, many states with smaller yet significant industrial profiles saw growth in power demand for the first time since Modi announced a nationwide lockdown in March.

Uttar Pradesh in the north - India’s most populous state and home to the largest number of medium and small-scale enterprises (MSMEs) in the country - saw a 10.1% growth in electricity use.

Other states including Bihar, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh - all of which are known for MSMEs - saw an uptick in power demand.

Seasonal factors including hot weather could have fuelled higher power demand.

Uttar Pradesh and Bihar have also seen a rise in coronavirus cases in recent days, which could have an impact on power demand. Bihar has announced a lockdown from Thursday to July 31.

Reporting by Sudarshan Varadhan Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore, Robert Birsel

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