Power shortage continues to haunt India

Himalayan News Service

New Delhi, January 23:

More than two years after electricity distribution was privatised in the Indian capital, power blackouts continue to dog large parts of the city to make winters miserable. And there seem to be no ready solutions in sight. The authorities say that until the snow in the mountains begins to melt, swelling the rivers, and hydel power generation picks up, there will be no respite from the persisting power shortfall.

But even when that happens, the shortages will continue.

So the Delhi government is chalking plans to generate additional power and simultaneously buy power from surplus states such as Himachal Pradesh, Orissa and West Bengal to meet the expected high demand during summer.“Due to poor rainfall last year, the hydropower generation has been less than normal this winter, leading to a shortfall in supplies through the northern power grid,” said Arun Goyal, chairman of the state transmission utility Delhi Transco Ltd (DTL). This has affected not just New Delhi but other parts of north India too.

“On some days, the grid is affected when the frequency falls or rises, leading to power cuts,” Goyal said. To meet the shortfall in its power generation, which is around 1,900 MW as against the current demand of 2,900-3,000 MW, Delhi is drawing 800-900 MW from the central power grid.

“The fault currently is that there is not much buffer in the system to protect against frequency fluctuations, leading to 1-1.5 percent load shedding an outages,” he said. Goyal, however, said reforms were very much under way, with the North Delhi Power Ltd and Reliance Industry’s BSES Rajdhani Power Ltd as well as BSES Yamuna Power Ltd making investments to improve infrastructure and stop power thefts.

Power thefts were brought down by three per cent in the first year and four per cent in the second. “The distribution companies are well on target to reduce the power theft losses by 17 per cent in five years,” said Goyal.

The official said efforts were on to bridge the shortfall in power generation by tying up with some of the power surplus states. Plans are also afoot to add fresh generation capacity in and around Delhi. “We are tying up with Himachal Pradesh for additional supplies. We already have a long-term agreement with the state, which should have extra supplies once the Himalayan snow starts melting and there is more water in the river. We are approaching Orissa and West Bengal too for transfer of surplus power,” he said.

The state-owned National Thermal Power Corp has completed a pre-feasibility study of the Pragati stage-II 330 MW project. A major problem facing the planners is the uneven load curve in Delhi.