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Power woes continue in Kerala on uncertain supplies, poor generation

According to reports, problems in coal supply at Orissa’s Talcher power plant and sub-optimal generation at the Ramagundam plant in Andhra Pradesh — triggered by the Telangana row — has caused a power crisis in south India.

Kerala is running short of over 550 Mw power in its central share, including 230 Mw from Talcher, 135 Mw from Ramagundam, 93 Mw from Neyveli, 44 Mw from Simhadri and 50 Mw from the unallocated supply. The KSEB had called off daytime load shedding after partial supply – amounting to 110 Mw – was resumed at the Talcher plant.

The power crisis is more serious in the northern parts of the state. Though the day time control had been called off, unofficial load shedding was reported from various parts of the state especially from rural areas in the north.

The Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) had announced deferred load shedding during day time and a half-hour cut during the peak hours. Later, it withdrew the day time shedding, but the peak hour control is still on.

The situation became serious when the share to the state from the various power plants like Ramagundam was curtailed. Union minister of state for power KC Venugopal said the share of Kerala from the central grid was fully established after a few days of crisis.

State electricity minister Aryadan Mohamed says KSEB could not afford the high priced power from the private sector and hence the load shedding.

He is also not sure how long the situation would continue and when the peak hour load-shedding could be withdrawn. He said the financial status of the board was not sound and it could not purchase electricity at high cost and supply at lower tariff.

All hydel stations in the state were running at full capacity, and orders have been issued to repair damaged units at Moolamattam and Moozhiyar power stations on a war footing, according to the minister.

However, the power shortage emerged even as the dams including the largest at Idukki are full thanks to a good monsoon. A number of generators in various hydel power houses are not working due to various reasons.

The water stored in the dams cannot be used effectively because of a lack of timely maintenance and repair of generators.

The fact that one generator at the Moolamattam power house of the 780 MW Idukki hydel project and two units at the Moozhiyar station of the 325 MW Sabarigiri hydel project are out-of-service has only added to the power woes of the state. The three units were expected to be operational only by November-December, the minister said.

Still with no end in sight to the power crisis, cyclic load shedding during evening hours is expected to continue. KSEB has taken steps to purchase 335 MW from private traders as a temporary measure, the minister said.

The KSEB hoped to get 200 Mw from Tata and 135 Mw from another private trader. But the state was still 470 Mw short of the peak hour (6.30 pm to 10.30 pm) demand. The state requires 2,900 Mw during the peak hours.

The total availability, even by including 64 Mw and 85 Mw from the diesel power plants at Kozhikode and Brahmapuram respectively, is only 2,430 MW, the minister said.

The total central allocation for Kerala is 1134.33 Mw, but the state was getting only 970 Mw daily when the crisis hit. This saw a further fall in the state’s share. As on October 2, the 970 Mw has gone down by 300 Mw more.

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