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New Delhi Electricity

By the late 1990s, decades of rural migration and population growth in New Delhi, India had caused enormous strain on public services and infrastructure. A public utility company, the Delhi Vidyut Board (DVB), managed the generation, transmission, and distribution of electricity in this burgeoning megacity. Like many other state electricity boards (SEBs) across India, the DVB reported consistent financial losses due to rampant theft, under-billing, and difficulty collecting payments. As revenue-cost gaps increased and the electrical infrastructure became increasingly dilapidated, electrical outages increased and political support for reform of Delhi’s electrical sector grew. However, as Delhi’s chief minister soon realized, the government would also have to work hard to attract and maintain the support of private investors. This case describes the 2001 unbundling and privatization of the DVB, with particular attention to how Jagdish Sagar, then-chairman of the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC), helped to create a regulatory environment that would attract and secure investment. 

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