According to reports, Karnataka is passing through 27 per cent power shortage mainly due to sudden spurt in demand from the irrigation sector and reduction in power generation due to coal shortages. The present scenario is expected to last for couple of months.
“The State today requires roughly 1,000 MW of additional power and the Energy Minister has promised that the purchases will be made as quickly as possible,” said Mr S. Chandrashekar, Karnataka Council Chairman of the CII.
The power requirement is met by four sources — 44 per cent through thermal units, 31 per cent through hydro electricity via Sharavati, Kali, Ghataprabha and few minor dams, 22.5 per cent renewable sources (wind and solar) and 2.2 per cent through Kiaga nuclear plant. In addition to the above, about 15-20 sugar mills also generate power through co-generations.
Currently, power generation from coal and hydel projects and renewable energy sources such as wind energy are also under severe strain. Due to non-availability of coal from Singareni Colleries and Coal India, the State is facing hurdles to operate thermal power plants located in Raichur and Bellary.
As far as hydel power generation is concerned, the State is cannot overdraw from hydel projects since water in the reservoirs and dams has to last till summer months.
Up to September, winds were good and 1,600 MW was generated. Due to lack of winds in the last two months power generation has been affected for wind farms.
“The only hope for the State is that the demand for power should come down drastically. For that to happen, it should rain between October and November,” Mr Chandrashekar said.
While the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) held the Congress responsible for the present situation, the Congress, on the other hand, has alleged that the crisis was due to the mismanagement of the power sector by the ruling party BJP. The Janata Dal (Secular) has taken the moral high ground of pointing fingers at both the Congress and the BJP for the mess created.
While rural areas in Karnataka face a six-hour scheduled power cut daily, and the urban areas face two hours, Bangalore city is spared of power cuts since it’s the largest contributor to the State in terms of revenues, Mr Chandrashekar said. Bangalore city, however, is put through staggered holidays (power cuts and load-shedding on rotation in different areas in the city).
“Industries will be hit by the power cuts but they will have to go with it,” he added.
Mr J.R. Bangera, FKCCI President, said that there are over 4.1 lakh industries in Karnataka and with power shortage, the industry will suffer production loss of more than Rs 10 crore a day.
“The SME sector which is generating and maintaining employment, besides supporting wider industrialisation is forced by load shedding to work below its optimum capacity which also affects its viability and future strength,” according to a memorandum submitted by KASSIA (Karnataka Small Scale Industries Association) to the Government.
There are about 15-20 sugar mills in the State generating 300 MW to 400 MW. Few of them have signed power purchase agreements (PPA) with the Government. The ones which have not signed PPA are demanding Rs 6.50 per unit but the State Government has initiated a dialogue to buy power at Rs 4.50 per unit keeping the KERC fixed tariff.
Few north Karnataka sugar mills are currently supplying power to the Maharashtra Government at Rs 4.5-5 per unit.