August 27, 2008

Power Cuts in Maharashtra May Increase By Two Hours

By Devraj Dasgupta

MUMBAI: Close on the heels of scrapping zero load-shedding in Navi Mumbai, Thane and Pune, sources in MSEDCL said a sudden drop in rainfall and a rise in the demand for electricity could force it to increase power cuts by two hours.

In a repeat of emergency measures imposed in July, MSEDCL is likely to undertake load-shedding across all consumer categories throughout Maharashtra to cope with the rise in demand.

MSEDCL sources said the truant monsoon has returned to worsen the power shortage. In what looks like a mere formality, MSEDCL officials are scheduled to meet state energy minister Dilip Walse- Patil on Monday to seek approval for implementing increased load- shedding across the state, once again.

The utility had reduced power cuts only in the first week of August after the monsoon returned.

Senior officials said the minimum load-shedding in residential areas could go up from 3.45 hours now to 5.45 hours. Similarly, towns with high power theft would have to face up to nine hours of power cuts.

In a bid to save every unit of electricity, MSEDCL would bring back restrictions on power supply to malls, multiplexes, IT offices and hoardings. Even industries may have to suffer 48-hour power cuts at a stretch, implying two days of shutdown in production.

Officials said the demand on Sunday touched a whopping 14,000 MW due to the absence of rains. On the contrary, the supply is fixed at 9,500 MW. Thus, MSEDCL is faced with a shortage of 4,500 MW.

"Farmers are again running pumps overtime to irrigate standing crops. Urban consumers, too, are pushing up their usage to deal with the sudden heat," said an official.

MSEDCL officials said production was going through a rough patch. Although generation by thermal plants had touched an optimum level, production at the Koyna hydel plant has reduced drastically.

"We have used 25% of the water at Koyna in just two months. If we don't step down generation, there would be no water left for the rest of the year," said the official. Hence, generation from Koyna has been reduced to half from the 1500 MW being produced till last week.

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