Council on Energy, Environment and Water Integrated | International | Independent

State of Electricity Access in India

Insights from the India Residential Energy Survey (IRES 2020)

Shalu Agrawal, Sunil Mani, Abhishek Jain, Karthik Ganesan
October 2020 | Power Sector

Suggested citation: Agrawal, Shalu, Sunil Mani, Abhishek Jain, and Karthik Ganesan. 2020. State of Electricity Access in India: Insights from the India Residential Energy consumption Survey (IRES) 2020. New Delhi: Council on Energy, Environment and Water.


Over the last decade, the Government of India’s efforts in providing electricity access to the country’s population has been commendable. Using the nationally representative India Residential Energy Consumption Survey (IRES), this study undertakes an independent assessment of the quality and reliability of power supply and consumer satisfaction with electricity services. Further, it analyses how distribution companies (discoms) handle the metering, billing, and payment collection (MBC) process across households. The study also proposes strategies to fill the remaining gaps to realise the goal of universal, affordable, and reliable electricity access in India.

The India Residential Energy Consumption Survey (IRES) is the first-ever pan-India survey on the state of energy access, consumption, and energy efficiency in Indian homes. It covers nearly 15,000 households in 1210 villages and 614 wards in 152 districts across 21 states. Conducted in 2019 in collaboration with the Initiative for Sustainable Energy Policy (ISEP), the survey findings help make comparisons of the progress made since ACCESS2018 and ACCESS2015.

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Household electrification in India is nearing saturation levels

electrification in india

Source: Author's analysis

Majority of the unelectrified households are in a few states in north-central India

electricity access in indian states

Source: Author's analysis


Rural households in many northern and eastern states typically receive less than 20 hours of grid supply

electricity access in rural & urban india

Source: Author's analysis

Key Findings

  • 96.7 per cent of Indian households are now connected to the grid, with another 0.33 per cent relying on off-grid electricity sources.
  • 2.4 per cent of Indian households still remain unelectrified. Most of them are concentrated in the rural areas of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Bihar.
  • A majority of the unelectrified households cited their inability to afford grid-connection as the reason for not having a connection.
  • An average Indian household receives 20.6 hours of power supply from the grid per day. The average daily supply in urban areas (22 hours) is longer by a couple of hours than in rural areas (20 hours).
  • The power supply situation has significantly improved in rural India since 2015, especially in the six ACCESS states (Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal). Daily power supply to rural households in these states is around 18.5 hours in 2020 compared to 15 hours in 2018 and 12.5 hours in 2015.
  • This improvement in the power supply situation is also reflected in the improved satisfaction rates among the households. In the six ACCESS states alone, the satisfaction levels among rural consumers from electricity supply situation in their homes increased from 23 per cent in 2015 to 55 per cent in 2018 to 73 per cent in 2020.
  • Even at an all India level, more than three-fourths of the grid users in India are satisfied with their electricity situation. However, two-thirds of rural and two-fifths of urban households still face outages at least once a day.
  • Of all grid-electrified households in India, 93 per cent have metered connections and 91 per cent are billed regularly.
  • Most households pay their bills in cash through discom payment counters and collection agents. Only 17 per cent of billed consumers pay their bills digitally (27 per cent in urban India and 12 per cent in rural India). This is despite the fact that 70 per cent of Indian households have a smartphone.

India’s progress on household electricity access (1980-2020)

Source: Author's analysis

Key Recommendations

  • Identify and electrify the remaining 2.43 per cent unelectrified households.
  • Review and consistently implement ultra-low tariffs for poor households with lifeline consumption to sustain electricity use affordably.
  • Improve information on real-time supply quality through the meters installed in distribution transformers to identify areas with poor supply quality.
  • Enforce Standards of Performance (SoPs) for discoms and empower consumers to demand mandated service levels.
  • Leverage technology and innovative solutions to ensure universal and timely metering, billing, and collection, especially considering the challenges encountered during COVID-19.
  • Institutionalise nationally representative surveys such as the IRES to understand the progress towards the goal of 24x7 power for all.
2.4 per cent of Indian households remain unelectrified. A majority of the unelectrified households cited their inability to afford grid-connection as the reason for not having a connection.

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