Despite long hours of load sheddingss at various cities, the official data for power shortage every day continues to vary between zero and 50-60 MW. The officials at the agencies say they are correct figures. According to National Load Despatch Centre (NLDC), the organisation that controls the flow of electricity in the country, power supply shortage during the evening peak period in Delhi on Wednesday was just about 43 MW, while households saw load sheddingss of more than two-three hours.
Similarly the data suggests that there were no shortage in Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan. In fact, in the last few days, peak shortage in Delhi, Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan was zero - meaning there was not shortfall during the evening peak period.
Officials from NLDC said that this data is provided by the power utilities who supply electricity to consumers in their licensed area. Evening peak period, on paper, is the time when demand touches its highest during a day. According to official data, it is between 8 pm and 8.30 pm - a half hour window.
However peak period in reality starts around 6.30-7 PM and continues till midnight every day, the time during which consumers turn their air conditions on after returning from work.
A senior official from the power department in Delhi said power supply shortage is difficult to measure. The data showing no supply shortage during peak period could be due to two reasons say experts in power management.
"Power utilities may be buying extra power to meet their entire demand just during the official peak period 8 pm to 8.30 pm as they may have decided not to meet certain volume of demand entirely.
This volume, that is not being met, therefore, is not being considered as demand during peak although consumers are forced to live in dark," said a senior official from the National Load Despatch Centre.
"Measuring power demand is very subjective. During a heavy storm when the distribution system of a state goes for a toss, demand of power from power plants and the utilities dwindle because the consumers are not in a position to draw the power and therefore theoretically dwindles," a senior official from an utility said.
"However, at the power plant end demand may have been less because utilities at many states have not been buying the full volume of power required to meet demand," he said.