The West Bengal government has opened the renewable energy sector to private companies. Power minister Mrinal Banerjee says the decision is in line with India's new Electricity Act, which allows companies to build their own power plant and arrange for distribution of the output by paying a wheeling charge for transmission. Charges for wheeling power across the network to third parties are yet to be announced, but the minister says preferential treatment for permits will be given to companies with plans to see power supplied to at least two remote villages. Proposals are expected to include supply to West Bengal's remote islands of the Sunderbans; the central government is offering subsidies for renewable projects in the area. To encourage development in other areas, the state government is planning to levy a charge on electricity bills to create a renewable energy development fund. With six million customers using an average 20,000 million kWh a month, the state aims to raise around $1 million a month.
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