The Kerala state has been pushed into a severe power crisis, and this is not because of the falling water level in reservoirs.
KSEB Limited has switched on the 'red light' not by the middle of December 2016 when it was clear that both the monsoons had failed and the reservoir levels had fallen below 50 per cent, but in the first week of January when it was told by Power Grid Corporation that the 400 MW that it had contracted in medium- and short-term tie-ups will not reach the state. The 400 MW, in bundles of 200 MW, had been contracted to compensate for the fall in hydel generation and satisfy summer demand.
The non-availability has been attributed to the delay in work of power grid lines that evacuate power from north to south India.
The work scheduled to be completed by February has now been indefinitely extended. "This means KSEBL cannot even strike fresh short-term agreements with the surplus market in North India for emergency requirements during summer as there are not enough lines to transmit the power to the state," a top KSEBL official said.
The first 200 MW was contracted in a medium-term agreement right after the failure of the Southwest monsoon. This was given the go-ahead the Power Grid, but on the condition that the work on transmission lines would be complete by February. The other 200 MW was a short-term tie-up struck after the betrayal of the Northeast. However, the Power Grid informed the state that there was no north-south corridor during day time.
Instead, the Grid advised that the state could evacuate power during night time. "As a consequence, a 24-hour availability of 400 MW shrunk to just 85 MW during night time," the official said.
The sudden deficit of contracted power has put immense strain on internal generation. Thanks to poor monsoons and a resultant spurt in consumption, there is already a deficit of nearly 3,000 million units. "Even this would not have been a problem if there were no corridor constraints. We could have easily contracted low-cost power from North India where there is a surplus," the official said.
KSEBL now has three options: one, increase hydel generation; two, opt for the costly Kayamkulam NTPC power, at Rs 7.27 per unit; three, enter into costly power purchase contracts with traders in South India where, unlike in the North, there is a power deficit; and four, impose power curbs. The first option has been ruled out, as water needs to be conserved for the coming summer. KSEBL, therefore, will be forced to go for a mix of the last three options.
Source- Deccan Chronicle