Energy — LIRNEasia

As a regional think-tank in the Asia Pacific focused on inclusive development through the facilitation of the use of hard and soft infrastructure, the energy sector has been a key area of focus for LIRNEasia since its inception. Our past work in this area includes:

Ongoing: Understanding the Relationship Between Poverty and Electricity Consumption

Historically, electricity consumption has been shown to be highly correlated with household poverty. In fact, in a gazette notification published in 2019, the Government of Sri Lanka identified a threshold of 60 units of electricity per month as one of several potential components of a proxy means test to identify low-income families for welfare benefit payments. However, the underlying analysis determining this threshold is not public and it is likely that electricity consumption patterns (and the corresponding threshold) of those who are experiencing hardships due to the ongoing economic crisis are different from those deserving of long-term welfare benefits.

As such, LIRNEasia is currently working with Lanka Electricity Company (LECO) to conduct a study to understand the exact relationship between electricity consumption and poverty and the potential of using electricity consumption as a reliable indicator in identifying both long term structural poverty and those who are experiencing hardships due to the ongoing economic crisis.

A brief note on the ongoing work can be found HERE.

2014: Training for PUCSL

Based on a competitive procurement process, LIRNEasia was selected to offer a training course to the Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka (PUCSL) in 2014. Among the attendees were new recruits of the regulatory commission, staff from the electricity companies, a few government officials, and members of the PUCSL’s consumer consultative committee. Spread over four days, the participants worked in groups on a case study which helped deepen their understanding of energy pricing regulation and the price review process.

The agenda and the course syllabus can be found here.

2013: Study on Electricity Consumption of Microenterprises

In 2013, LIRNEasia carried out a study on the delivery of services by Government agencies to microenterprises such as water, electricity, sanitation, and transport provided to every resident of a city also impact the business. Three services consumed by microenterprises were studied – telecom, electricity & municipality-delivered government services such as business registration. Within the sub-domain of electricity, several aspects were explored, including those related to consumer knowledge, barriers to access, inefficient use, and customer relationship management (CRM) by electricity providers.

Key outputs from the project

  • Report: CRM practices in the electricity distribution sector in Sri Lanka: Supply side perspective on improving customer service delivery
  • Brief: Consumers lack knowledge about power outages
  • Brief: Lack of property rights prevents access to electricity
  • Brief: Lack of efficient use of electricity
  • Presentation: Customer Relationship Management in Electricity and Telecom Sectors
  • Presentation: LIRNEasia workshop for Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB)

2013: SAFIR Course

After successfully completing the 8th edition of SAFIR courses in 2007, LIRNEasia also helped organize the 12th SAFIR Core Course in 2013. The course was designed to address the challenges facing member agencies of SAFIR, drawing from the economic principles that underlie the practice of principle as well as the specificities of South Asian politico-economic context.

This was an action-oriented program as opposed to an abstract discussion of regulation. Content was organized on two parallel, intertwining tracks – one focusing on the rationales for regulation and the numerous factors that affect regulation as currently practiced in the region and the other on strategies for securing the legitimacy of the regulator through customer engagement.

The agenda and the course syllabus can be found HERE.

2007: SAFIR Course

LIRNEasia’s foray into the energy sector began in 2007, when we conducted a training on infrastructure regulation at the 8th South Asia Forum Infrastructure Regulation (SAFIR). The residential program offered participants the opportunity to learn the fundamentals of regulations pertaining to infrastructure industries and regulatory economics as well as topical issues attendant to those industries, to share their experiences, to develop practical solutions to regional problems. While theory and principles covered were applicable across most infrastructure sectors, electricity was given special emphasis as one of the four primary areas studied during the sessions.

To increase the cohesiveness of the content, the course was designed around four thematic modules that are designed to provide a thorough grounding on issues related to overall infrastructure regulation.

  1. Reform and competition in infrastructure sectors
  2. Price and financial aspects of regulation
  3. The regulator’s performance and legitimacy
  4. Other Topics in Infrastructure Regulation

The agenda and the course syllabus can be found here.


  • Support to finetune effort to reform Sri Lanka electricity industry

    LIRNEasia is known for its work on ICTs, but it works on all infrastructures. Electricity is an area we have done considerable work in. Our work is shown here. In 2002, after years of work involving all stakeholders including those working at the Ceylon Electricity Board, new legislation was enacted so that some incentives would be created for efficiency in the electricity industry. But unfortunately, this law was not implemented and following a change in government it was gutted of the key elements that would have made benchmark regulation possible. Now, 20 years later, there is a fresh attempt to reform the industry. The reforms must be supported, but the proposed bill is not without flaws. For example, it appears to be closing the door to any change to the monopoly in transmission services. The multiplicity of councils, operators and providers being created has potential to cause dysfunction. Some of these issues were brought to the attention of the Minister by the document below:  

  • LIRNEasia at “ICT in Rural Development” Conference organized by Indonesia ICT Ministry

    The 2nd International Conference on ICT for Rural Development (IC-ICT RuDev) by the Centre of Research and Development on Informatics Applications and Public Communication, Ministry of Communication and Informatics of the Republic of Indonesia will be held in Jakarta during 27th -28th  October 2021.

  • BRIEF: Lack of property rights prevents access to electricity
  • BRIEF: Lack of efficient use of electricity
  • BRIEF: Addressing consumer complaints
  • REPORT: CRM practices in the electricity distribution sector in Sri Lanka: Supply side perspective on improving customer service delivery

    The past decade has seen unprecedented, rapid growth in electronic connectivity in the form of voice in the developing world. Access to the Internet and to more-than-voice services is quite uneven with those at the BOP being excluded from the benefits of the rich potential of applications and services associated with the Internet. The report is a part of LIRNEasia’s research into the exploration of how to bring about an increase the inclusivity of the currently marginalized BOP by providing more useful services and applications on mobile platforms. In terms of providing useful services, the research will focus on three sectors; telecom, electricity and government services. How can these services be more useful to particularly to the micro-entrepreneurs at the Bottom of the Pyramid? The key is in how the suppliers of these services manage their consumer relationships. Despite its growing subscriber base, the mobile operators have managed to maintained customer relations to a high standard without substantial increases in service personnel and costs. Can some of the learnings and best practices from the mobile sector be adopted be transferred to the electricity sector? In order to answer this question, LIRNEasia will study the current customer service relationship management (CRM) […]

  • REPORT: Methodology note on low-income, urban micro-entrepreneurs: Quantitative survey

    The survey was conducted among the low-income, urban micro-entrepreneurs (MEs) in three countries, Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka. The study defined micro-entrepreneurs as those who employed less than ten hired workers, i.e 0-9. The hired workers are paid employees or full-time equivalent, excluding the owner. This is an adaptation of international definition followed by World Bank and European Commission1. Low-income or the poor is identified as those who occupy C, D & E levels in the socioeconomic category (SEC) classification in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. It was SEC D & E levels in India. Please see Annexure 1 for the SEC classification in three countries. In all the three countries, only cities or urban localities as defined by the respective national governments were selected for the study. The owners of the microenterprise who are older than 14 were included in the study. There were small changes made in the study during the middle of fieldwork, as we were not able to find the desired number of MEs in the certain worker categories. In Bangladesh, SEC B1 and B2 were included to cover the MEs in 1-3 and 4-9 worker categories. In India, SEC B2 was added to achieve the quotas […]

  • REPORT: CRM practices in the electricity distribution Sector in Bangladesh: Supply side perspectives on improving customer service delivery

    EXECUTIVE SUMMARY The report broadly explores the customer relationship management (CRM) practices in the electricity distribution sector in Bangladesh. It identifies some of the existing challenges and how these can be improved with the use of ICTs and better service design. In a country where less than half the population has access to electricity through 13.5 million connections to the grid, the challenge facing the sector is two-fold. First, those that are privileged to be connected to the grid, need improved services. They need to be connected 24×7, occasional outages and blackouts need to be better communicated in advance, the billing system and payment system needs to work seamlessly, and the leakage that happens through mal-governance at various levels of the system needs to be reduced. These are no small tasks. Appropriate use of ICT tools can catalyze many of the solutions to address these challenges. Secondly, those that are not on the grid yet, require that the grid be expanded to provide them with electricity services. In the interim, however, alternative renewable energy sources may be explored. Solar energy has been playing a commanding role in this situation, covering nearly 2 million rural homes with solar home systems that […]

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