According to reports, a dark Dasara and an even darker Diwali looms large over Karnataka as it braces for power cuts. Rural areas in the state are set to face a six-hour scheduled load shedding daily and the urban areas, three hours. Bangalore city has been spared the outage for now since it’s the largest contributor to the state in terms of revenue.
“We had proposed a one-hour power cut daily in Bangalore city but energy minister Shobha Karandlaje turned it down in the larger interest of industries and revenue,” said Bescom managing director P Manivannan. The proposed power cuts will be formally announced sometime next week after it is approved by the Karnataka Electricity Regulatory Commission (KERC).
The power situation in the state turned precarious as Raichur thermal power units pulled the plug due to the acute coal shortage, forcing the government to deliver yet another power shock: a three-hour power cut for industries and daily power cuts for domestic consumers.
But the only silver lining is that the load shedding will be imposed between 9am and 12 noon or from 3pm to 6pm. “Thus, the public will not be inconvenienced by power cuts during busy or peak hours.” In some places the power cuts may be in the early morning between 5 am and 6 am,” Manivannan added.
Karnataka is going through a 24 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 a couple of months. “The state today requires roughly 1,000 MW of additional power and we are purchasing power,” said Karandlaje.
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 Kaiga nuclear plant. In addition, 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 power wind velocity. Due to poor quality of coal, 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 cannot overdraw from hydel projects since water in the reservoirs and dams has to last till summer. “The only hope for the state is for the demand for power to come down drastically. For that to happen, it should rain between October and November,” Karandlaje said.
Industries will be severely impacted by the power cuts but they have little choice. There are over 4.1 lakh industries in Karnataka and with three-hour power cuts, the industry will suffer production loss of about Rs 15 crore a day.
There are about 15-20 sugar mills in the state generating 300 MW to 400 MW. The government is looking to buy power at Rs 4.50 per unit keeping the KERC tariff fixed.