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Grim power situation in State

Last updated: 12 July, 2010
Bangalore, July 11, DHNS: 1:12 IST

A combination of wet coal and old machinery at the Raichur thermal power plant has brought down the electricity generation capacity drastically, plunging the State into a deep power crisis.

The power scenario in the State has been fluctuating for the past two months owing to several reasons.

Recently, neighbouring Tamil Nadu, too, contributed to the worsening power situation by overdrawing power from the central grid. As if this was not enough, the Raichur thermal power plant also gave in on Friday, creating a blackout across the State, including many parts of Bangalore.

While three out of seven plants at the Raichur station are not working because of on-going repair, power generation at the Udupi and Bellary power plants has been significantly low.

Consequently, Bangaloreans are faced with acute power shortages ranging between six and eight hours a day, while those outside the power utility are experiencing unscheduled load-shedding for over 10 hours a day. While Energy department officials said it will take another three to four days before some normalcy is restored, principal secretary Shamim Banu was hopeful the situation would improve by Monday.

Officials, however, agreed that of late the demand-supply gap had become considerable. The total power demand across the State is 112 million units while the supply has been 90 million units.

Several parts of the City, including large swathes of South Bangalore, went without power for hours Saturday night. The industrial sector, too, has been badly hit with load-shedding occurring between 7 pm and 9:30 pm for the past few weeks. The other areas in Bangalore that went without power for most part of Saturday are HSR Layout, Whitefield, Sanjay Nagar, Kempapura, Vijaynagar, Bannerghatta Road, Kanakapura Road, Raja Rajeshwari Nagar and Peenya.

According to Energy department officials, the principal reason behind the current crisis was the failure of the Raichur plant to generate enough power which could be supplied to all parts of the state.

Senior officials explained that the disruption was being caused by non-usable wet coal.
They suspect that the supplier loaded the coal directly from the washery units and the authorities at the power plant also failed to check the consignment.

Other officials said the rains may have contributed to making the coal wet and, therefore, unusable.

The Raichur plant has a power generation capacity of 1,400 mega watt (MW), although the expected capacity is 1,000 MW. In recent days, however, the plant has been able to generate only about 800 MW. On Friday, the situation took a turn for the worse when capacity plunged to as low as 200 MW.

Power generation has been badly hit at a time when the state is continuing to reel under an acute power shortage.

Earlier this year, the state government tried to address the power crisis by deciding to purchase power from private power generators. Between December 2009 and March 2010 the government spent about Rs 1,500 crore on power purchase.

By invoking provisions of the Electricity Act, the government had also made it mandatory for captive power generators to supply to the grid.

It is now not left with any option but to cut power because the agreement with private power generators expired in May this year.

This monsoon, the state has not received enough rain that could roll the turbines at the various hydel power generations units.

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