Lucknow, India: The State of Uttar Pradesh is shivering and in darkness with six power plants tripping in succession hours after a sharp rise in electricity demand due to the unusually harsh winter.
Power demand rose to a level not seen since May 2011 level when the problems was peak heat in the summer. The overall power outages were more than 2,500MW.
This spells trouble for the ruling Samajwadi Party saddled with an election promise of providing free power to the rural areas and initiating measures to improve the power distribution network. Perhaps they should have considered wind and hydro for the winter months.
Electricity bosses said said the availability of coal has been one of the limiting factors behind the recent power shortage. They said the state government is in the process of initiating a project of purchasing power under a scheme called as Case-1 bidding.
The scheme would see power utility purchasing of around 6000MW from different sources for 25 years beginning 2016. But the process is in the evaluation stage.
On Friday evening, two power units, Panki and Rihand (each of 100MW), went down and aggravated the power crisis forcing the state government to resort to unscheduled cuts.
“For the next 15 days all shops and malls in the state, excluding medical stores, will open at 11 a.m and close at 7 p.m,” said a government spokesman.
Similarly, all restaurants would operate between 11 a.m and 10 p.m, the spokesman said. He said the decision has been taken by the state government keeping in view problem of power supply during summer season. The decision would be applicable with immediate effect and stern action would be taken against violators.
The spokesman said the decision would provide relief to the people and the farmers from power crisis to an extent.
The local Power Corporation has already imposed ban on use of power for decorative lighting and hoardings after 8.30 p.m.
Meanwhile, at a meeting to review the power situation, Utility boss Avnish Awasthi said that steel furnace and rolling mills, which consume heavy power, would remain closed till further orders.
The Uttar Pradesh Power Corporation Limited (UPPCL) said that it was buying power from the energy exchange to meet the crisis.
Mishra admitted that the availability of power from the central pool has declined significantly because of the tripping of power plants in the central sector.
On Thursday evening four power plants went off the grid in succession due to technical faults.
While Unit-1 of 110MW in Parichha shut down because of boiler tube leakage, the 250MW Unit-8 of Harduaganj had a transmission failure.
Likewise, Reliance power promoted Rosa plant (Unit-3 of 300MW) went off the grid because of an electrical fault.
The gasbased Dadri power plant (Unit-4 ) of 130.19MW, owned by the National Thermal Power Corporation, was shut down because of less requisition by the state.
There was no update from the northern region load dispatch centre on when these units would get back on track.
On Wednesday, Unit-1 of 220MW at the Narora atomic power plant owned by the Nuclear Power Corporation had tripped due to some problem in the turbine.
The status of state-government owned power plants has been grim for the past few years. For instance, Unit 11 of 200MW, which was shut in July 2011 for renovation and maintenance work, is expected to function only in 2015.
Similarly, Unit-10 of 200MW, which had to be shut down for renovation and maintenance work in March last year is expected to be up in March 2015.
The only ray of hope is the 110MW unit in Parichha, which was shut down in January 2011 and is likely to come back to working stage in March this year.
The UP Power Corporation Limited (UPPCL) has set a target of reaching out to over one lakh rural consumers who are defaulting on payment of power dues.
UPPCL managing director, AP Mishra said that corporation will be setting up camps in the rural areas to facilitate the rural consumers seeking generation and payment of their due bills.
The reach out to rural consumers comes in the backdrop of UPPCL carrying out a drive where in authorised power consumers were identified and the walls of their houses were painted in yellow and black.”This was done to demarcate from other unauthorised consumers, who were defaulting on the payment of bills,” said UPPCL managing director, AP Mishra, while speaking to reporters on Friday.
Mishra said that they have already tapped around 1.5 lakh rural consumers this way.”This section of consumers too needs to be taken into account, if the utility plans to bring down its losses,” he said.
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