India's electricity supply rises 7.1% in February

Men walk past electric pylons in Little Rann of Kutch in the western Indian state of Gujarat

By Sudarshan Varadhan

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India's electricity supply rose 7.1% during February, provisional government data showed, marking the second straight month of growth after five straight months of decline.

Power supply rose to an average of 3.62 billion units per day in February, up from 3.38 billion units last year, an analysis of daily load despatch data from state-run Power System Operation Corp Ltd (POSOCO) showed.

India's Central Electricity Authority (CEA), an arm of the federal power ministry, is expected to release official data on power demand later this month. POSOCO releases provisional load despatch data every day.

Higher electricity supply could mean a rise in power demand, as electricity deficit in India is marginal. Electricity demand is seen by economists as an important indicator of industrial output.

Annual consumption of electricity by industry accounts for more than two-fifths of India's annual electricity consumption, according to government data, with residences accounting for nearly a quarter, and commercial establishments another 8.5%.

India's annual electricity demand in 2019 grew at its slowest pace in six years, according to the CEA, amid a broader economic slowdown that resulted in a fall in sales of everything from cars to cookies, prompting some large-scale industries such as the automobile sector to slash jobs.

The country's overall economic growth slowed to 4.7% in the December quarter, government data released last week showed, the weakest pace since 2013 as consumer demand and private investment weakened.

India is expected to grow at the slowest pace in 2019/20 since the global financial crisis, according to government estimates.

(Reporting by Sudarshan Varadhan; editing by Uttaresh.V)