No power curbs in Kerala despite poor rainfall, water stock

No power curbs in Kerala despite 50% dip in rainfall and low water level in dams
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The power situation looks critical but Kerala State Electricity Board has decided not to impose power curbs in the state. Only if things turn worse will there be restrictions on the use of power.

As it stands, things look grim. The southwest monsoon is short by nearly 50 per cent. Water level in dams, as a result, is abysmally low. To conserve water, KSEB has considerably slowed down hydel generation; during a normal monsoon average hydel generation is 21 million units but this year it is not even 10 million units.

But any hope of compensating it with cheap power from other sources has also taken a beating. The state's share from the central pool has fallen quite decisively. And to top it all, the daily demand for power is considerably more than during a normal monsoon month.

However, a high-level meeting convened by KSEB chairman N S Pillai to take stock of the situation on Monday, has decided to look at the positives. “The Indian Meteorological Department has predicted more than ordinary rainfall in the state from July 18,” the chairman said.

Though the water level in the state's reservoirs remain at a scary 12.2 per cent, the chairman said that this was actually an increase from the July 4 level. “If the water level on July 4 was adequate to generate 432 million units, on July 15 the dams have enough water to generate 502 million units,” the chairman said. A case of looking at the dams as half-full rather than half-empty.

On an average, the hydel generation between July 4 and July 15 was 8.5 million units. However, during this period, the average daily consumption was 69.1 million units. Consumption is galloping but more troubling is the poor inflow into the dams.

The inflow (the flow of water into the state's reservoirs) during the first half of July was estimated to be 688 million units. The actual inflow till July 15 was 171 million units, just 25 per cent of what was expected. In fact, the actual inflow during this water year till now is just 339 million units or 21 per cent of the expected inflow of 1,543 million units.

However, the KSEB chairman said that if the hydel generation was kept at between six and 12 million units, this inflow would be enough to see the state through till August 31.

No power curbs in Kerala despite 50% dip in rainfall and low water level in dams

KSEB planners had hoped that any slow down in hydel generation could be made up with power from the Central pool and contracting firms. But there is a debilitating shortage of 550 MW to 690 MW daily from central stations and companies with which KSEB has struck medium- and long-term agreements.

KSEB has been allocated a total of 1,600 MW from the central pool: Thalcher (400 MW), Ramagundam (286 MW), Neyveli (273 MW), Kalpakkam (21 MW), Kaiga (65 MW), Simhadri (81 MW), Valloor (47 MW), Koodankulam (252 MW), NTPL (68 MW), and Kudgi (105 MW). "Though we are entitled to 1,600 MW we now receive only 1,150-1,200 MW daily because some central generators have been shut down for annual maintenance. Meaning, there is a shortage of 400-450 MW," N S Pillai said.

Besides, the state has to receive 1,110 MW daily on the basis of agreements struck with private companies; Balco (91 MW), Jhabua (195 MW), Jindal (322 MW), Jindal Thermal (92 MW), Maithon (274 MW), Damodar Valley Corporation Meija (92 MW), and RTPS (43 MW). “Here we have a daily shortage of 150 to 240 MW,” the chairman said.

Now, this shortage the KSEB plans to make up by purchasing costly power from power exchanges. “Only if we are unable to do this will we think of curbs,” the chairman said.

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