Past Event

Seminar on “Overcoming Business As Usual (BAU): Understanding and Enabling Smart Grids in India”

Friday, November 11 - Saturday, November 12, 2016
Brookings India
2nd Floor

No. 6 Dr. Jose P. Rizal Marg
New Delhi
110 021

Content from the Brookings Institution India Center is now archived. After seven years of an impactful partnership, as of September 11, 2020, Brookings India is now the Centre for Social and Economic Progress, an independent public policy institution based in India.

Brookings India Fellow for Energy and Sustainability Rahul Tongia gave a seminar in Bangalore on Smart Grids, which was hosted by Microsoft Research (MSR) India, and included participants from MSR, IEEE, and local industry. The talk aimed to bring together IT/telecom experts with power sector focused experts to examine what more needs to be done to make Smart Grids happen.

A few of the key points discussed included:

1)         How much would or should be the budget for a smart meter or smart grid?

2)         How well is cyber-security being addressed?

3)         What synergies are there to Smart Cities

4)         What innovation is needed to move the needle (i.e., where could researchers focus on)?

There was a secondary observation that the computer science and IT fraternity has not engaged on this topic nearly as much as the power sector (IEEE) fraternity has, and much more could be done to draw lessons from IT as used in enterprises.  Enterprises, like banks, do worry about cyber-security and cyber-physical—security, and many steps could be taken as part of low-hanging-fruit in this regards by power utilities.

Speaker: Dr. Rahul Tongia, Fellow, Brookings India, and Adjunct Professor, Carnegie Mellon University


Dr. Rahul Tongia is a scholar and researcher in areas of technology and policy, especially for sustainable development, and a Fellow at Brookings India / the Brookings Institution.  He is the Advisor to the Smart Grid Task Force, Govt. of India, and the India Smart Grid Forum, bodies he was instrumental in setting up.  He is also an Adj. Professor, Carnegie Mellon University.

He was on the faculty at CMU for many years, with appointments in the Dept. of Engineering & Public Policy and School of Computer Science. He was previously co-founder and Principal Research Scientist/Program Director at the Center for Study of Science, Technology, and Policy (CSTEP), a Bangalore-based not-for-profit.  His areas of research are broad and interdisciplinary, spanning technology and policy, with domain expertise in energy/power and IT/telecom.

His energy work has spanned seminal studies on India’s nuclear power program, importing natural gas, power pricing, and political economy. His current area of focus is on Smart Grids, harnessing ICT to improve the power grid, as well as sustainable energy (with a major volume on Making Renewables Sustainable in India, January 2015).

He was on the Technology Advisory Board for Southern California Edison’s Smart Grid project (“SmartConnect”), a billion dollar project that was recognised by peers as the best in North America, and was Vice-Chair of the UN ICT Task Force Working Group on Enabling Environment (formerly Low-cost Connectivity Access). He was also a long-time and early scholar in the domain of ICT for Development (ICTD).  At CSTEP, he has worked on a major report on IT for the Power Sector for the Ministry of Power (2008), and has been advising state power utilities, the state government, and the Ministry of Power on IT roadmaps and smart grid deployments. He has designed/led a number of IT and Smart Grid roadmaps and pilot projects in India.

Dr. Tongia has a Ph.D. in Engineering & Public Policy from Carnegie Mellon University and a Sc.B. in Electrical Engineering from Brown University.