'Dry shock' haunts power sector

Load-shedding likely to begin across Karnataka, say authorities

The government is apparently paying the price for pressurising the Karnataka Power Corporation Limited (KPCL) in March to generate more power in order to meet the demand across the State. The March measure depleted the water stocks faster than planned. Barely three months after this, the State is now forced to cut down the consumption to only 78 million units, sources in the power sector told Deccan Herald.

With this, the KPCL’s warning of an impending power crisis has come true. With the monsoon yet to make an appearance, all the reservoirs in the State are drying up fast.
Sources in the power sector said the present situation will lead to severe scarcity as they will be forced to introduce load-shedding. “We are clueless how the situation will be, because Bangalore alone needs about 35- 40 mu of power. The total demand in the State varies between 95-108 mu per day. Since hydel power is a major source of power, we only have to pray for immediate rains,” said a top power official. Hydel power contributes about 60 per cent of the total power produced in the State, meeting the peak hour demand. The delayed monsoon has increased anxiety across the power sector as officials say that the existing water reserve can meet the demand for about 10 days. The water level at the State’s biggest hydel power plant, Linganamakki stands at 1741.05 feet, less than 8 per cent of the reservoir’s total capacity.

Even coal supply in the State has been affected. According to officials, stocks of about 2.8 lakh tonnes will last only for the next two weeks. “As a routine exercise, the coal mines have stopped production since they are expected to remain water-logged during the monsoon. Even the railways delay transportation of ore during rainy seasons as a safety precaution,” said a KPCL official.

The purchase of power from outside the State will also remain a distant dream as the utilities have to shell out at least Rs 10 per unit of power considering the crisis. However, officials hope that demand will drop with consumption coming down to 95 million units on Thursday. “The situation is much better than the 142 mu in March and April,” said an official.

But with the State facing severe rainfall deficit, consumption is likely to shoot up again in the days to come due to the extensive use of IP sets by farmers. IP sets consume nearly 40 percent of the total power produced in the State.

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